Olentangy BOE discusses options for pre-school capacity


The Olentangy Board of Education scheduled a special meeting to review an option to increase enrollment capacity for pre-school.

The board will meet on March 7 to review the finances of relocating the school district’s central offices to another building, 7840 Graphics Way, in Lewis Center from Shanahan Middle School and convert the vacated space into 12 classrooms with two activity spaces.

Also, the district’s OASIS program could permanently relocate to the middle school at 814 Shanahan Road.

The building proposed for the central office relocation was once used by Modern Medical Inc. and now has no tenants. The property owner has a March 30 deadline for the district.

If approved, classroom space at Shanahan would be ready for the 2018-2019 school year.

“We have a continually growing need for Pre-K,” said Sharon Jurawitz, a member of the district’s facilities committee, at Thursday night’s board meeting.

The district now has 27 classrooms spread across 10 elementary schools — equivalent to one school, Jurawitz said — and the state is changing the maximum number of students allowed for each pre-school classroom to 12 students instead of 16.

In addition, pre-school growth has been sporadic over the the past decade, she said. Growth has been exponential over the past four years and has nearly doubled in eight years.

Voters approved a bond issue that included money for Heritage Elementary School and for elementary school No. 16. Board member Julie Feasel has said the state at the time was mandating all-day kindergarten and thus required more schools to stay compliant. But the state withdrew the requirement and the district did not sell the bonds for the building with district residents not paying taxes on them, she said.

The bonds would give the district $13.5 million to use, but construction of an elementary school would cost about $16.8 million — a gap of $3.3 million.

Two other options were considered such as a building only for pre-school and modular classrooms.

Doing nothing would not be realistic, Jurawitz said.

That is because they would need to maximize every classroom for the first through fifth grades, making it difficult to accomplish uniformly at every elementary school and impossible to add additional students during the year with enrollment projects to be perfect.

“I think that option is off the table,” she said.

In other business, the district approved the purchase of an eight-passenger vehicle for $82,481 and four maintenance vehicles for $148,557. All vehicles would be purchased from Germain Ford of Columbus.

By Brandon Klein

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Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

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