Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) Director of Business Management and Facilities Jeff Gordon was before the Board of Education during Thursday’s meeting to update them on current projects either already underway or set to begin in the district this summer.
Gordon called the projects update “one of my favorite presentations, only exceeded by the one when I come back later and show you what the end of the projects looks like.”
The presentation began with Gordon providing an update on Olentangy Berlin Middle School, the district’s sixth middle school, which included a video featuring drone footage of the building’s current progress. Construction of the building began last summer, and it is expected to be ready in time for the 2023-24 school year.
Gordon said the middle school building is progressing as planned, although he added there have been some delays in getting equipment. However, he said of those delays, “Right now, it’s nothing that is going to delay us with our construction schedule.”
Modernizing the school playgrounds has been an emphasis for the district dating back to last year, and Gordon said on Thursday that four more playgrounds will be upgraded ahead of the next school year. The upgrades will focus on four elementary schools’ preschool and kindergarten wings.
The upgrades include installing a soft surface to replace the existing gravel, as well as new swing sets at each school. Last summer, the district upgraded 15 playgrounds — three high schools, two middle schools, and 11 elementary schools — to include soft surfaces and handicap-accessible equipment.
Other projects Gordon detailed include constructing collaboration spaces at Olentangy Liberty High School and Olentangy High School. The spaces will be mirrored after the same type of open spaces that were included in the construction of Olentangy Berlin High School, replacing what was the computer labs in the other high schools.
With the exception of the recently finished Shale Meadows Elementary School, each of the district’s other 15 elementary schools will also be receiving upgrades to their media centers, Gordon said.
Upgrades won’t be solely reserved just for specific schools, however. The OLSD administrative office building, located at 7840 Graphics Way in Lewis Center, is also set to receive renovations with the addition of enclosed office space. Existing cubicle space in the building will be converted into 20 enclosed offices.
“When we bought this building, it was a cubicle farm,” Gordon told the board. “We didn’t put a lot of time into it. We had a short window to move in. So now we’ve gone back, and we had some money in the bond to do renovations. Now we’re going back and doing some of that and moving some of those people who went from offices to cubicles back into offices.”
Gordon went on to say both the bus and car parking lots of the district’s West Transportation Center will be expanded to accommodate the additional buses and drivers that will be necessary for the ever-growing district.
Finally, Gordon touched on the looming construction of the district’s 17th elementary school. Gordon said, “We are planning on going out to bid for the building sometime in late summer or early fall to try to get ahead of some of those schedule delays issues we’re dealing with now with different equipment and items.”
All of the funding for the projects are covered by the bond or permanent improvement levy approved by residents in 2020.