The growing student body at Hayes High School could have necessitated five daily lunch periods next school year.
Instead, the district has made plans to renovate the cafeteria, providing enough seating and food-preparation areas to allow just two lunch periods a day.
"Serving lunch would become an all-day thing for the food-service department, and some students would be eating very early in the day in order to accommodate a lunch period for everyone," said Jason Sherman, director of facilities and transportation.
Having two lunch periods will mean half of the school's students will eat during each period, rather than the quarter of students who currently eat together.
There are about 1,498 students enrolled in the district and projections show an additional 100 students will enroll next year.
The district will have more flexibility in the schedule with only two lunch periods, officials said. Students will be able to meet with intervention specialists during the day instead of before or after school.
In order to accommodate more students, the existing athletic training area will be moved to another part of the building and an additional serving line will be added.
The two existing serving lines will be remodeled for efficiency.
Tables will be put up and taken down in the auxiliary gym as needed. The main gym also will have extra tables set up for lunch periods.
New food-service equipment will be purchased as well. Sally Rathje, director of food service, will hire additional staff and adjust schedules to accommodate the new periods.
The district plans to begin the renovations as soon as the school year ends in preparation for 2014-15.
Sherman said costs will be around $100,000 and are not included as part of the bond issue approved by voters last year.
As part of the bond issue, the district promised to increase dining space at Hayes. The dining space increases as part of these renovations are temporary until permanent renovations can be completed, district leaders said.
"These renovations will dovetail into the bond issue renovations," Sherman said. "Although this project isn't part of the bond issue, it's a steppingstone towards more improvements and a step in the right direction."
Delaware joins other central Ohio districts, including New Albany and Marysville, to switch to a two-period lunch.
"The driving force behind all of this is what's best for our kids," Sherman said. "Having five periods of lunch in a school day is not what's best for them in terms of scheduling and eating times."