The Owensboro Public Schools Board of Education on Thursday approved the termination of a sublease for the Owensboro Innovation Academy at the Centre for Business and Research at 1010 Allen St.
Last November, board members first heard from then-Superintendent Nick Brake about plans to move the OIA to the newly renovated Innovation Middle School, at the former site of Owensboro Middle School South, which previously was known as the 5-6 Center, at 2631 South Griffith Ave. Plans call for both the OIA and iMiddle to share the building and to create an Innovation Campus beginning next school year.
The district wanted to bring both innovation schools to one campus because it will be a cost-saving measure, district officials said, among other reasons.
OPS entered into two leases for the OIA space — on March 1, 2015, when it first leased the bottom floor of the building from the Malcolm Bryant Corp., owner of the building, and then in February 2018 when it entered into a sublease with the City of Owensboro for the top floor.
Jared Revlett, spokesman for OPS, said the city was leasing the top floor from the Malcolm Bryant Corp. and “the easiest way for us to occupy that space was to sublease it from the city.”
The district leased the bottom floor for $20,282.62 a month and subleased the top floor for $12,525 a month, so the district will be saving close to half a million dollars a year by moving OIA to the iMiddle campus.
The official end date of the sublease for the top floor that was approved Thursday will be June 1 of this year.
Revlett said the district has been in communication with Malcolm Bryant Corp. about their intentions to move OIA, but they haven’t told the company officially since its lease only requires a 45-day notice.
“We’ll do that one at a later date, but we have informed them that our intention is to end that lease at that time,” Revlett said.
Board Chairman Jeremy Edge asked Chris Bozarth, OPS director of maintenance and technology, what would happen to the furniture and equipment currently housed in the OIA facilities.
“About 80% of the equipment is ours,” Bozarth said. “Most of that furniture will be reused in OIA because that’s fairly new furniture.”
Bozarth also said construction is on track for OIA’s new home to be completed before the start of the 2020-21 school year.
iMiddle is modeled after OIA and is part of the district’s innovation program that is already in place, acting as a sister school and feeder to the OIA.
An important thing to remember, district officials said, is that while middle and high school students will be sharing a campus, they will maintain separate identities. The two schools will physically be separate, and there will be little to no co-mingling of students unless it’s for a specific project. Middle school students will inhabit the south side of the building and high school students will be in the north side.
There are currently 285 iMiddle students and 287 OIA students.
The district essentially split the building in half to renovate in phases, with iMiddle’s portion being completed by the beginning of this year. Renovations include site paving, ADA toilets, remodeling existing space for new band and choir rooms, a new family resource center and the building of two new resource rooms. Also, the media center and cafeteria will be expanded and one computer lab will be constructed along with one administrative suite.
The project will costs the district about $13.3 million, most of which is being spent on energy and other mechanical items that needed an upgrade, such as the roof, HVAC and lighting.
Madison Silvert, president of the Malcolm Bryant Corporation, said that “we have an incredible partnership with Owensboro Public Schools,” and wished them well in their new space.
“We developed with them really a showpiece for the community,” he said. “It is an incredible space that is going to make a great home for someone.”
The Malcolm Bryant Corp. is actively marketing the space, Silvert said, “and hope that anyone with interest in it will give us a call because it is probably as interesting and progressive a building as you’ll see in the region.”
Bobbie Hayse, email@example.com, 270-691-7315