The Pickerington school board unanimously approved an agreement Friday to use more than $50-million in state funds to upgrade its five oldest school buildings.

The Pickerington school board unanimously approved an agreement Friday to use more than $50-million in state funds to upgrade its five oldest school buildings.

Sweeping renovations to Pickerington High School Central and Ridgeview Junior High will commence next summer.

The board's vote allows the district to use approximately $52.4-million in Ohio School Facilities Commission money to renovate Central and Ridgeview as well as Fairfield, Pickerington and Violet elementary schools.

"We've got the funding now," PLSD Superintendent Karen Mantia said. "This (agreement) will start the whole project."

The funding was available after PLSD was selected by OSFC from a list of districts with the least assessed property wealth in the state, and which had a fiscal master plan for building maintenance. The OSFC's Classroom Facilities Assistance Program, established in 1997, is funded by $10-billion Ohio received in 1998 as part of a settlement among states and cigarette manufacturers.

PLSD secured its funding when voters renewed a 0.5-mill building maintenance levy by a 3-to-1 margin May 5.

Following the close of the 2009-10 school year, work will begin at Central and Ridgeview. In subsequent months and years, OSFC funds will be used to renovate Fairfield, Pickerington and Violet elementary schools.

The laundry list of upgrades at Central and Ridgeview includes replacement of fire alarm and security systems, windows and some furniture and lighting at the two schools. It also will bring the two schools into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, lead to the removal of hazardous materials and replacement of water piping at Ridgeview and yield a new gymnasium floor at Central.

A project goal will be to achieve a level of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification, said Vince Utterback, PLSD business manager. The certification encompasses standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to implement environmentally sustainable construction methods.

nellis@thisweeknews.com