The Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) is set to expand its Olentangy Academy building, 7774 Graphics Way in Lewis Center, to pave the way for the growth of its Academy for Community Transition (ACT) program. During last week’s meeting of the Olentangy Schools Board of Education, a contract with Fanning Howey was approved in the amount of $302,116 for architectural design work for the project.
ACT is a program designed to help Specialized Learning Center students exiting high school prepare for life after graduation. According to the district website, students in the program focus on individualized transition plans to achieve future adult living and career aspirations.
Included in the expansion project is 12,880 square feet of additional space that would allow for seven additional classrooms to be put into use at the academy. One of the added classrooms would be a large, multi-purpose room that will also be used for other exercises such as physical activities for students in the program, as well as expanded programs for STEM students.
Currently, there are three ACT classrooms at the Olentangy Academy building, and the district plans to add an additional classroom at Olentangy High School next year. However, Olentangy Director of Business Management and Facilities Jeff Gordon noted during the meeting, “It’s not the most ideal to not have them all together, but we did find that we could accommodate some space there. But this academy expansion will help us bring those students back to one location.”
Gordon added that the restrooms at the academy, which are currently shared by all students, will also be expanded to better meet the needs of the students in the ACT program. Additional restrooms will also be added to double the capacity, he said.
Gordon went on to say his department had already been looking into updating the HVAC system at Olentangy Academy, which would have cost the district more than $500,000 to complete. However, by increasing the size of the mechanical elements in the expansion project, Gordon said the district can “tie that back in and not have to do a complete upgrade of the HVAC of the current facility.”
“Some of these costs will help us defer costs on the other project of updating the mechanicals in the building,” he said.
In total, the expansion project is estimated to cost $4.3 million, with the district utilizing remaining bond funds to facilitate the construction. Gordon noted the cost of the project has only continued to increase given the prevalent issues with the global supply chain. Superintendent Mark Raiff noted the district looked at expanding the academy more than two years ago at a projected cost of around $2.5 million.
“We put it off, and rightfully so at the time, but both STEM and ACT continue to be very, very successful programs that continue to grow (at a rate) that we can’t house,” Raiff said. “I think we’re almost kind of at a decision point of either we have to shut the programs down or head down this path (of expansion).”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.