Cuyahoga Falls City Schools set to take first steps on building project

Officials hope to start construction on grades 6-12 building in 2023

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
The Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education on Wednesday, Oct. 7, approved a resolution agreeing to participate in the Expedited Local Partnership Program for a grades 6-12 school building project, avoiding a two-year delay in the beginning of construction.

CUYAHOGA FALLS — School district officials learned this week that they've been accepted into a different state funding program that will allow the district to take initial steps toward constructing a new building that will house sixth through 12th graders.

"We got the green light to go and start building," said District Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols at the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday. "That's great news that we got."

Nichols said the news was "a truly defining moment … one that will impact all of us positively for generations to come."

"I'm thrilled," added Board of Education Vice President Anthony Gomez. "It's the best part of the year."

The Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution agreeing to participate in the Expedited Local Partnership Program. This program, which is administered through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, will provide $33.2 million for a 6-12 building project that has an overall price tag of $113.8 million.

The majority of the project expense is coming from a bond issue passed by Cuyahoga Falls City School District voters last fall. In November 2019, district voters approved a 9.83-mill tax levy that included a 5.33-mill, 36-year bond issue that will generate about $80.6 million to construct a 370,000-square-foot building for sixth through 12th graders at the site where Bolich Middle School and Newberry Elementary School now stands.

Nichols said that moving into ELPP means the district can "access our $80 million [in local funding] and hit 'go' on the project."

He explained the district will soon hire an architect of record, a construction management team and then work will start with the finance team. The planning process is expected to take from 18 months to two years with construction anticipated to start in 2023, according to Nichols.

Nichols said the $33.2 million in state funding was originally slated to come from OFCC's Classroom Facilities Assistance Program, but "in July … we were informed that CFAP funds were frozen due to a reduction of state funds driven by COVID-19."

If the district had remained in CFAP, Nichols said there could've been "up to a two-year wait" to receive the money.

Nichols said the district then asked to be transferred to ELPP, and added the OFCC on Tuesday notified the district that it "will be able to transition" to that program.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.