Groveport Madison and Canal Winchester residents will watch the transformation of their high schools in 2017, as well as the steps taken by both districts to improve academic performance.

Groveport Madison and Canal Winchester residents will watch the transformation of their high schools in 2017, as well as the steps taken by both districts to improve academic performance.

Construction on the new Groveport Madison High School is under way at the north end of the site, or the athletic wing, and progressing to the south where the academic wings will be housed.

School officials said, "More than 50 percent of the load-bearing concrete block walls have been constructed," structural steel is being installed and "soon the first portions of the roof will be put in place."

Superintendent Bruce Hoover said most of the construction work will occur during the next 18 months. So far, the building project is within budget and on schedule.

"By the end of June 2017, we should see the first of the drywall being hung," Hoover said.

"Things will progress very quickly from that point forward."

The school district is expected to take possession of the new high school in May 2018 even though some work, including the demolition of the current high school, will continue through the summer. Installation of all fields and parking lots will follow, so that the building will be ready for the 2018-2019 school year.

"Our new high school signals the Groveport Madison community's commitment to compete and succeed," Hoover said. "It will be a great place for not only our students, but for the entire community."

In August 2016, the Cruiser Academy opened its doors at its new location in the District Service Center at 4400 Marketing Place.

On Dec. 20, services scattered throughout the district, including the maintenance department, custodial services, information technology department, food service and administrative offices, finally will be under one roof at the District Service Center.

"I'm very excited to consolidate all of our operations into one location -- and to see the benefit of improved operational efficiency and effectiveness," Hoover said.

"We also want to use the new facility as a means of engaging the community in conversations that will improve student achievement and school climate," Hoover said.

Even though the new high school will provide much needed space, the district already is experiencing growing pains in many of its other buildings.

Groveport Madison School District has 5,588 students enrolled this year and anticipates another 100 new students next year.

To give the schools a bit more elbow room, the school district added four modular classrooms at Dunloe Elementary School last year. In November, the board approved the purchase and installation of 12 more modular classrooms at Sedalia Elementary School for the 2017-2018 school year.

At the board's November work session, Hoover said the district is looking at its construction options and ways to reconfigure grades K-8 in new schools.

Hoover contacted the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) to discuss the district's need for "additional permanent space" and ask for its assistance in updating Groveport's enrollment projections and facilities plan. The OFCC is expected to take up the matter in March.

"It was further agreed to involve staff, parents and community members in researching and evaluating configuration and construction options that would yield maximum academic benefit to students, and at the same time, minimize potential construction costs," Hoover said.

He said the district's first priority is "the improvement of the academic performance of our students."

To help meet students' academic needs, Hoover indicated the district has "invested in new materials and technology to support student learning" and added staff to support teachers and the students' needs.

"Our goal is to have steady, incremental academic growth year after year," Hoover said.

In 2017, Canal Winchester schools will draft the blueprints for the 55,000 addition and renovation of its high school.

Overcrowding in the high school propelled the district into funding the $25.7 million project without taxpayer assistance. The district's share is about $6.3 million and the state will pay for the remaining portion.

School officials estimate that enrollment will experience its largest growth in the next eight to 10 years with about 300 students per grade.

Superintendent Jim Sotlar said the district hopes to begin interviewing architects for the project in February so actual work on the high school can begin in the summer of 2018.

"With steady housing growth over the next five years, the district will see enrollment numbers continue to grow and space in our buildings continue to shrink," Sotlar said.

"We are addressing this issue at the high school by adding a 55,000-square-foot addition and renovating the entire building to meet future growth needs.

Sotlar said the district will put together a future growth task force to discuss the future needs of buildings and the district's master facility plan, which was last updated in 2008.

The superintendent indicated the district will also continue its efforts to prepare students for "college, career and life."

Starting in January, all eighth- and ninth-grade students will receive a district- provided Chromebook to use at school and home.

After this "pilot semester," students in grades 6-12 each will receive a Chromebook for the entire 2017-2018 school year. In the 2018-2019 school year, the number of Chromebooks in grades K-5 will also be increased to allow "greater access in the classroom."

At the November board meeting, Sotlar said, "The 1:1 Chromebook program will provide the most effective learning by integrating our instructional and technological resources."

"Students will have the ability to access content, 24/7, allowing them to learn beyond the scheduled times and outside the school walls," he added.

In addition to the Chromebook initiative, the middle school is applying for STEM Designation.

"The purpose of the designation is to better prepare students for the future workforce that has a significant concentration on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields," Sotlar said.