Licking County News

Licking Heights acquires land for new high school


Licking Heights school board President Brian Bagley said he is pleased with the district's purchase of roughly 155 acres for about $1.55 million along Cable Road.

District officials hope to use the land for a new high school building, regardless of the outcome of a 2.86-mill bond issue on the Aug. 5 ballot, he said.

"A new school will eventually happen, hopefully sooner than later," Bagley said in an email.

He said the school board and district administrators have been looking for land for several years.

"We have been close on a land purchase a couple of times," Bagley said. "That being said, I am so glad that we did not make the move. The location of this property is fantastic. It opens up far more options for the district.

"We have explored other properties over the last several months in case this fell through. However, the location and the price of this property were far better than our other options. Long story short, this is an incredible investment and we are excited to have it."

The district purchased the land for $10,000 per acre.

Superintendent Philip Wagner said the land purchase is being made without taxpayer money: $1.1 million is being financed through a tax settlement with Reynoldsburg City Schools and the rest is being funded from money that was originally slated for the West Elementary School's expansion project, which was completed nearly $1 million below budget.

"We did not request money from the taxpayers," Wagner said.

He said the timing of the purchase is opportune because the district is vying for $21 million to $30 million in state funding to augment the $26,575,000 in local funds the 2.86-mill bond issue would provide, if it passes.

He also said the purchase shows the state that Licking Heights "is serious" about building a new high school.

"It helps advance the project," he said. "It shows that we've been spending wisely."

Wagner said the new property is contiguous with the current high school property near Cable and Mink roads, and it stretches down Cable Road toward the Summit campus.

"This would give us a Cable Road campus," he said.

Wagner said having the continuous properties would cut down on transportation costs and negate the need to duplicate athletics fields.

Also, he said, a new high school would require about 80 acres, leaving the rest available for an athletics fieldhouse and additional athletics fields that also could be used by the community.

"This property is ideal for the school district," Wagner said.