Guidance from the district's development committee has saved Olentangy more than $34-million that otherwise would have spent on new buildings, the school board was told Oct. 27.

Guidance from the district's development committee has saved Olentangy more than $34-million that otherwise would have spent on new buildings, the school board was told Oct. 27.

Dave King, chairman of the development committee, told board members that total is based on data from the Ohio School Facilities Commission on construction costs for the central Ohio region. The total stems from the construction of 15 new Olentangy schools.

The development committee, made up of professionals such as King, who is an architect, has developed a formula over the years for building well-designed schools at a lower cost, King said. Ten elementary schools, three middle schools and two middle schools have been built in recent years as the district has grown to more than 15,000 students.

"The development of prototype design for the buildings is a factor (in the costs)," King said. "The general economy is a factor. The efficiency of design is a factor."

The development committee is an advisory group to the school board. It last reported to the board on construction cost savings two years ago.

"In addition to the construction cost savings, significant savings are also gained from the reduction of professional fees as well as lower bond interest payments, because a higher bond rating has been consistently awarded, in part, because bond rating agencies are impressed by the work of a professional development committee," King said.

Board president Julie Wagner Feasel said while the district has never qualified for any matching state funds through the school facilities commission, Olentangy has still managed to build good, low-cost schools. Other board members agreed.

"As a taxpayer, this is a fabulous, fabulous result over the past 10 years," member Dimon McFerson said. He also noted the average elementary school in the district has been built for $7-million, meaning Olentangy has saved the equivalent of the cost of five new elementary schools.

In other board business, superintendent Wade Lucas said district officials are examining why the number of high school graduates in Olentangy who took remedial courses in college hit a high point in 2007, the last year such figures are available.

Lucas showed statistics that 34 percent of those graduates who went to public colleges or universities in Ohio needed to take some remedial courses. That number is much higher than 2006 when it was 19 percent or 2005 when it was 23 percent. Data was not available for students who went to private colleges or went to out-of-state schools.

"We had a spike here in 2007. We don't know (exactly) why," Lucas told the board.

District officials are awaiting numbers for 2008, but already are taking steps such as having algebra in the eighth grade, and plan to measure student achievement through end-of-course exams.

"Hopefully, the remediation rate will come down," Lucas said, adding that the 2007 rate may be an anomaly.

Also at the meeting, Jen Denny, principal of Olentangy Meadows Elementary School, introduced fifth-grade student Emily Davis to talk about a special project at the school.

Emily said she is spearheading a "Treats for Troops" project at the school after reading about a similar project in a magazine in which candy is donated to be sent overseas in care packages to troops.

In addition to a candy drive at the school, Emily asked that anyone interested in donating to bring candy, including any leftovers from Halloween, to the school. The school will collect candy through Nov. 5.