Olentangy Valley News

Olentangy's growth lopsided as boom peters out

District adds 405 high schoolers, just 96 elementary students in past year; no plans for fourth high school


Olentangy schools added almost 700 students between August 2013 and August 2014, with most of that growth occurring in buildings east of U.S. Route 23.

Olentangy had 688 more students enrolled in grades K-12 by late August this year compared with its enrollment in late August 2013. The majority of that growth came at the high school level.

As of Aug. 25, 2014, the district had 405 more high school students than it had Aug. 28, 2013. Additionally, the district had 187 more middle school students and 96 more elementary school students.

Spokesman Michael Straughter said the numbers made sense, as students who were coming into the district as elementary school students during Olentangy's high-growth period are continuing to move on to high school.

Although the district grew, Straughter said the increase was calm compared to yearly heavy growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He said the district's high schools can adequately handle the growth.

"There are no intentions to build a fourth high school," he said. "That is not on the radar."

While the district grew by fewer than 100 students at the elementary school level over the past year, seven of the district's 10 elementary schools east of U.S. Route 23 saw increased enrollment in 2014.

Olentangy Meadows Elementary School in Lewis Center saw the largest growth over that period, adding 89 students.

Of the five elementary schools west of Route 23, three had lower enrollment in August 2014 compared with August 2013.

Straughter said the growth east of Route 23 was expected as new developments continue to sprout up in Berkshire, Berlin, Genoa and Orange townships. New housing developments tend to add more elementary-age students rather than older students, he said.

"As that development continues, that's where we're going to get those younger kids at," he said.

The district has authority to sell bonds for the construction of a 16th elementary school, but the building is not expected to open within the next five years. Straughter said the building likely will be located on the district's east side, but a location has not been determined.

Olentangy High School saw the most growth among all schools in the district over the past year, adding 148 students. Orange and Liberty high schools were second and third, adding 133 and 124 students, respectively.

Shanahan saw the biggest enrollment increase among the district's middle schools, adding 77 students. All of the district's other middle schools added about 50 new students each, except Liberty Middle School, which lost 29.