Plans are on track for the fall opening of the Marysville Early College High School and Union County Innovation Center, with enrollment already halfway to the district's first-year goal.
Principal Kathy McKinniss provided an update to the school board at its meeting Thursday, Feb. 20.
The new school was made possible through a $12.4 million Straight A grant from the Ohio Department of Education. The district is using the funds as seed money to start an early college program in the old middle school at 833 N. Maple St.
The Ohio Hi-Point Joint Vocational School District, Columbus State Community College, Honda of America Manufacturing, the Union County Chamber of Commerce and EDWorks are working with Marysville schools to create the high school and innovation center.
Ohio's first manufacturing-related early college high school will focus on the STEM disciplines -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- and will open in August.
McKinniss told the board that eighth-graders are in the middle of scheduling for next school year. So far, 70 students are enrolled in the new school. But she predicted by the time they are done, that number will double.
"My projection was 150 kids, so we will be about there," she said.
McKinniss has hired several teachers from elsewhere in the district. They include: Jason Wirth, who currently teaches AP chemistry at the high school and will focus on engineering; Jen Hinderer, who teaches languages arts; Brooke Young, who currently teaches math at the middle school; and Jodi Robertson, who is now the grade 7-12 language arts curriculum coach but previously was a social studies teacher.
"I couldn't have looked throughout the universe for better teachers," McKinniss said.
McKinniss said more employees will be hired as support staff and some will be from Ohio Hi-Point, but the exact numbers have not been determined. All of the Marysville staff will be internal transfers; there will be no outside hiring.
A team of teachers and administrators is working on student-specific items.
"We are working on a portrait of a graduate. Our next step is to dive into the scheduling piece and the curriculum piece," McKinniss said.
The district is applying to the Ohio Department of Education for an official STEM school designation.
Renovations to the old middle school also are coming along well, said Craig Kertesz, senior project manager with Ruscilli Construction Co. Inc., the project contractor.
"We are very grateful to be a part of this team," he said.
"For what we have to accomplish and the time we have left, we're going to be installing about $400,000 worth of work a week. It's going to be a wild ride," Kertesz said.
Mankins said the district was just notified that its Pathways to Prosperity grant proposal was accepted. The Pathways to Prosperity Network includes a handful of states, Jobs for the Future and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The effort aims to ensure students graduate prepared and ready to enter the workforce.
The Pathways money will fund two projects at the new school, one of which will add five different credentialing areas to the current health science programming.
"That proposal will also fund a virtual learning lab, so if certain schools were offering a strand or pathway we don't offer, students will be able to distance learn into that school," Mankins said.
The second project is the purchase of an advanced mobile manufacturing lab that will benefit all of the school districts that Ohio Hi-Point serves.