Springfield schools awarded $11.3M for South High project

A consortium of Clark County schools has been awarded an $11.3 million state grant to renovate the former Springfield South High School and create a college and career readiness center that will benefit students across the region.

The consortium of the Springfield City School District, Clark-Shawnee Local School District, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center and Global Impact STEM Academy was notified Friday that it will receive the Ohio Straight A Grant funding it had applied for earlier this year.

The money will enable GISA to relocate to South High from its temporary home at Clark State Community College, a plan that has been in the works for several years.

“This will not only benefit the students that attend Global Impact, for them to have a state-of-the-art facility, but will be a windfall for the entire community,” said GISA Director Joshua Jennings.

The new center, with a possible name of the Greater Springfield Career ConnectED Center, could also become home to Clark State Community College’s precision agriculture program — already awarded $1 million in state capital funds for the renovation — and a collaborative career readiness hub serving students from all the partner districts.

When the consortium applied for the grant in April, Springfield Superintendent David Estrop said the collaborative approach would mean opportunities for students that no single district could provide.

“We’re adding value to their diploma with additional learning opportunities that will prepare them for whatever is next in their lives,” he said.

Springfield City Schools spokeswoman Kim Fish said Friday that all the partners involved in the grant proposal are thrilled.

“We knew we had innovative ideas,” she said.

The consortium has already employed a local architect to create initial plans for the 103-year-old building on South Limestone Street. Jennings said the plan right now is to be in the renovated space for the 2015-16 school year.

“I am extremely proud of the Springfield City Schools team and their partners: Clark State Community College, Global Impact STEM Academy, Clark County Career Center and other local school districts for their grant proposal and focusing on a landmark like South High School not only for future learning opportunities, but also the ability to ensure that students in public schools and adults are trained for the jobs currently open in our region,” said Ohio Senator Chris Widener, who has been a champion of the reuse of South for several years.

Thirty-six Straight A Grant applications out of 335 were approved.

The $250 million Straight A fund was created by Governor John Kasich in 2013 with the goal of improving efficiency and student achievement through innovation. More than $88 million in state lottery money was awarded last year for use in 2014.