Sometimes opportunity knocks and something unexpected comes up that you feel needs to be pursued. In Worthington Schools, we’re in that position right now with a 13.7-acre piece of property that would be an ideal site on which to build a new Colonial Hills Elementary School. The property sits off 161 on the east side of the school district and has commonly been known for years as The Harding Property. Currently, the land is owned by the I Am Boundless company.
The Boundless family of companies has nearly 40 years of expertise providing person-centered care to children, adults, and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities and/or behavioral health challenges. They have several tracts of land on their property that they are looking to sell and in their words “partner” with a provider. Last spring Boundless issued a RFP for their property.
On March 15th, Worthington Schools responded to the I Am Boundless RFP and Director of Business Services Jeff Eble met twice with their team to discuss the 13.7-acre site on the SE section of their property at the end of Indianola Avenue.
On July 8th, I again met with Boundless regarding our proposal. We discussed our timeline for potentially building a new Colonial Hills elementary in Phase 2 of our Master Facilities Plan and the potential for Worthington Schools to purchase the land and lease it back to I Am Boundless until we are ready to move forward.
On August 5th, I was informed by I Am Boundless that they have selected Worthington Schools as a partner for their property. On August 7th, I sent out three blog posts to the Worthington community to explain the opportunity to partner with Boundless. On August 16th, all Worthington Schools’ parents received email communication about this opportunity and were invited to a community meeting to be held at the Worthington Education Center on September 3rd. Postcards were delivered to residents around the Boundless property and the current school to invite them to the meeting.
On September 3rd, Worthington Schools updated the community on this opportunity to partner with Boundless and answered community questions. The meeting can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/-OP32SWwONE. Community members submitted feedback in writing at the meeting or via email after the meeting. All feedback we received is attached to this update.
Those who provided feedback seem to believe this is an excellent opportunity that Worthington Schools should pursue. But, with that said, there seems to be a general unease with the potential change of locations for Colonial Hills and there is uncertainty around what will happen with the current school site should a new Colonial Hills be built.
As Superintendent, I believe that entering negotiations to purchase the land is the responsible decision at this point in time. If we let the opportunity pass we limit the options of future decision-makers. We can work with the community over time to flush out the details of how the land will be used or not used.
Boundless is seeking to create a partnership between several partners on that land. This would be a very unique arrangement and will make coming to an agreement in negotiations more complicated than if it was a straight purchase of the land. Our expectation is that negotiations between the parties may take some time.
On September 23rd, the Worthington Board of Education voted unanimously to provide the Superintendent and Treasurer authority to begin negotiations with I Am Boundless. Before any deal is final details will be presented to the Board of Education and the Board will need to vote in public session to accept a deal. If negotiations are successful I would expect this to happen sometime in the next 12 months. There will be significant public notice before any vote occurs. This is but one step forward on a long journey but we’ve decided to move forward with this opportunity.
- Trent Bowers, Superintendent