A painting crew of high school and college students is hard at work sprucing up classrooms and hallways in Upper Arlington school buildings as part of a summer maintenance schedule.
The district also plans to resurface tracks, repair roofs and do other major work before classes resume.
Chris Potts, executive director of business, said the Youth Employment Summer (YES) crew is led by Hastings Middle School teacher Zack Prout.
"This program serves as a summer job for UA high school kids and some college kids," Potts said. "They spend seven weeks during the summer doing various painting projects throughout our district.
"The principals and custodians identify painting needs in each school and Mr. Prout creates a schedule for the summer, making sure that every school is impacted in some way with a paint job," he said.
Potts said the painters focus on classrooms, hallways and restrooms.
"This program provides a wonderful opportunity for student painters to stay connected to the district while learning the value of hard work and responsibility," he said. "It also allows the district to get painting needs accomplished that typically would be deferred."
Potts said painters are paid $8 an hour.
This year's painters are Haakon Borstad, Griffin Turnbull, Taylor Neely, Alex Tepley, Josh Shapiro, Tyler Bergen and Nate Jones.
Prout said former Hastings teacher Tom Williams began the YES program and ran it from 1981 through 2002.
"I was born and raised in Upper Arlington and was on the painting crew myself for four years," Prout said. "Mr. Williams was a big influence on my life, in helping me learn structure and discipline.
"He was a big part of my development as a person. He was also my inspiration in running the program and in helping kids learn responsibility and teamwork."
Prout said former teacher Mike Hinze, who taught history at UAHS, ran the program for five years until Prout took it over for the past two years.
"Both Mike and Tom were incredible and the ones responsible for me having this job," Prout said. "Being on the crew is a terrific way for kids to give back to the community."
Potts said other improvements to be accomplished this summer are track replacements at Hastings and Jones middle schools.
"Both tracks were long overdue for resurfacing," he said. "They are being resurfaced with a latex track surface and the project should be complete this month. The cost to resurface both tracks, as well as replace the fence around the Hastings track is $180,000."
Jones Middle School will get a new roof this summer, at a cost of $708,000. Potts said it is a full replacement down to the deck, including all new insulation.
Barrington Elementary School will get a new heating system that will cost $325,000.
"We are abandoning the steam way of heating at Barrington and changing it to a hot-water system to heat the building," he said. "The current and original steam pipes at Barrington are deteriorating and it is more cost-effective to abandon the system and change the heating of the building to a hot water system."
The Tremont Elementary parking lot will be replaced in a partnership with the Upper Arlington Public Library, at a cost of $275,000 for the school district.
"The parking lot between the school and the library is being completely replaced," Potts said.
In all, the district will spend about $2 million this year on capital improvements.
"Maintaining our aging buildings, which average 60 years old, is a very important aspect of operating a successful school district," Potts said.
Voters approved a 2-mill permanent improvement levy in 2007 as a part of an operating levy.
"The passage of that levy now provides the district with approximately $3 million each fiscal year for building and campus improvements, transportation replacements, technology upgrades and textbook replacements," Potts said.
The district has spent about $10 million on improvements since 2009, such as additions to Greensview and Barrington Elementary schools; roof replacements; heating and cooling upgrades; and parking lot repairs and replacements.