Licking County News

Licking Heights seeks state funds to implement master plan

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Licking Heights school district officials have applied for $55 million in state funding for new facilities and now they are waiting for approval.

If approved, the funding program would begin in July, said Superintendent Philip Wagner.

Wagner said any plans the district has for new facilities are subject to change, but the current plan, which is called Master Plan 6, calls for a new high school by 2017 and renovations to the North and Central elementary schools.

The master plan would require $55 million in state funding and $17 million in local funding.

However, Wagner said, the residents' share would be minimal if Licking Heights must place a bond issue on the ballot.

"The district may need to go to the public," he said. "We're looking in the ballpark of 1 to 2 mills."

Wagner said the 1 to 2 mills would be paid off over a 30-year term, unlike an operating levy that must be paid in 10 years. So, he said, payments for a 1- to 2-mill bond issue would cost taxpayers less than a 1- to 2-mill operating levy.

"We wouldn't be asking for a lot of money," Wagner said. "It's not as much out of pocket."

If the master plan were implemented, grade distribution throughout Licking Heights' buildings would change, Wagner said.

According to the plan, North Elementary School would be used for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten; West Elementary School would be used for the first and second grades; South Elementary School would be used for the third through fifth grades; Central Middle School would be used for the sixth and seventh grades; the existing Licking Heights High School would be used for the eighth and ninth grades; and a new high school would be used for the10th through 12th grades.

However, Wagner said, the details are by no means certain.

"There are a lot of plans that need to be confirmed moving forward, so there are a lot of missing details that become the future focus and present a tremendous opportunity for the students and community," he said.

One thing Wagner is certain about is student population growth.

"When you're out of space, you're out of space," he said.

Wagner said modular classrooms are being considered and might be necessary as early as next year to handle the student population.

Wagner said the Licking Heights school district is growing because it offers a good education in a desirable community, but that popularity is limiting its ability to improve educational programming.

"The buildings are limiting education," he said.

He said that includes all-day kindergarten, which he said he hopes the district can provide soon.

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