What does the future hold for Little Miami? The district’s Board of Education has begun working with a local firm to help answer that question and to create a master plan for the next five years and beyond.
The Little Miami Board of Education recently voted 4-0 to approve a $300,000 facility master planning contract with Emersion DESIGN/Fanning Howey. Board member Bobbie Grice was absent from the Aug. 16 meeting.
District officials will now begin working with representatives of Emersion to assess several facets of Little Miami’s operations, including how the district is currently using classroom space, at a premium now after several years of increased enrollment.
After losing 500 students during fiscal emergency, Little Miami has seen student enrollment grow by nearly 200 students each year for the last three years. The district opened its doors to around 4,670 students this August, the highest enrollment ever. That, along with three aging school buildings and one that has been shuttered since 2009, pose complicated challenges for district leaders.
Superintendent Greg Power said the Board’s vote has set into action an process that will help set the course for the district’s future in regards to enrollment, facilities, technology, curriculum and more.
“After spending so much of the last few years talking about Little Miami’s past, it is exciting to talk about the future,” he said. “The process on which we are about to embark gives us a rare opportunity to create spaces reflective of the 21st century learning needs of our students.”
Emersion DESIGN, lead by project manager Christie Boron, will now begin a facility analysis of what space the district has and how it is used. This includes the number and kind of classrooms (i.e. regular, intervention, special subject), evaluation of enrollment trends, existing site conditions, curricular alignment, maintenance and capital improvements completed and planned at each school site, and more.
Boron and her team are projecting approximately eight months to complete all phases of the planning process, including two months for research and analysis, two months for translation phase, one month for the delivery phase and three months of community engagement.
That final phase is of the utmost importance to district leaders, Power said.
“As these phases are completed, internal and external stakeholder engagement will occur across our district and community,” he said. “There are needs beyond just new space and we want to have that conversation with our parents, our staff and our community.”