New Philadelphia, Ohio -  School officials say they’ll be involving the community as they work to develop a master plan for building improvements. 

Superintendent David Brand says the New Philadelphia Board of Education will be considering all possible options to address the current and future facility needs of the district. He says they would like the community to be a part of those discussions and help them make a decision.

“The community, the staff, everybody will have an opportunity and that voice to figure out what we really want to do and how we can make the best facilities for our kiddos and what the things are that we want as a community. 

Brand says one of the issues the board hopes to address is overcrowding at the district’s elementary schools. He says district enrollment is up by 14 percent over the last four years, and that trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. 

“It looks like that’s what we’re going to have for quite a little while here. So it’s an exciting thing, and especially as the city continues to grow and more and more businesses continue to come. We’re blessed here in New Phila to have that. Some of the other communities are shrinking and getting smaller. We’re expanding but that does cause us issues, obviously, with overcrowding, trailers and mods and things that we have to have at our facilities right now,” he says. 

Brand says the GPD Group of Akron will be guiding the district through the planning process and helping them engage community stakeholders. 

“They’re leading us through deeper analyzing our facilities and helping us work with the community, work with everybody to develop a plan forward,” he says.

Brand says the district begins holding community meetings after the first of the year, and all options will be on the table. 

“We are committed to figuring out what we want to do next with our facilities, whether that be to maintain what we have all the way to any form of remodeling, additions or anything else,” he says.

Brand notes the district is eligible for funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission that will cover 55 percent of the cost of expanding or improving their current facilities or constructing new buildings.