The target date to open bids for the first phase of South-Western City Schools' Ohio School Facilities Commission project is March 1.

The target date to open bids for the first phase of South-Western City Schools' Ohio School Facilities Commission project is March 1.

The project will be completed in three phases and all schools should be constructed and open by fall 2016, SHP Leading Design Architect Mike Dingeldein told the school board Monday, Oct. 1.

The $250 million project includes the replacement of 13 elementary school buildings and Franklin Heights High School, as well as technology upgrades to Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods elementary schools.

Through the commission, the state will pay half the cost of the project.

The first phase will involve constructing new buildings at the six "build-move" sites -- locations that are large enough to allow the current school to operate while construction of the new building is completed.

The build-move schools are Alton Hall, Darbydale, Highland Park, North Franklin, JC Sommer and Stiles.

Three of the schools -- Harmon, Prairie Norton and Monterey -- are "swing" sites, or locations that also are large enough to accommodate both the current school and the new building.

Once the new schools are built at those sites, their old buildings would house students from Prairie Lincoln, Richard Avenue and West Franklin. Those three schools are located on sites too small to accommodate both new construction and ongoing operation at the existing school.

Schools would be built at these "swing-off" sites in the third phase.

A 13th new building to be constructed would combine Finland and East Franklin elementary schools.

At the board meeting, Dingeldein reviewed the site plans for each elementary school. The plans have been submitted to the facilities commission.

"These are conceptual site plans," he said. "There is still a lot of engineering that needs to be done."

There are a number of common characteristics in the designs, including a north-south orientation of the buildings to take full advantage of daylight, Dingeldein said.

Typically, the schools will have about 100 parking spaces, with the six schools that will accommodate up to 600 students having about 130 spaces, he said.

Many of the sites will have a small, separate drop-off location for the school's early education/kindergarten wing, Dingeldein said.

Site design goals include:

* Being careful to consider existing curb-cut locations but also looking at new ones. Dingeldein said his firm will work with the city of Grove City to address traffic issues at various schools.

* Separating buses, cars and staff vehicles to manage on-site traffic flow.

* Making sure pedestrians will be safe.

* Making use of storm-water detention methods to handle storm water.

* Creating geothermal well fields to help heat and cool the buildings.

* Including sufficient outdoor play and education areas.

* Constructing big buildings. Most of the new schools will be two-story buildings, Dingeldein said. The sites are located in residential areas, so care is being taken to make sure the new buildings do not push against nearby houses.

* Retaining as many of each site's current amenities as possible.

* Building the schools so they have long-term operational value.

"It's a big balancing act" to incorporate all of the goals at each site, Dingeldein said.

As for the Franklin Heights High School project, the schedule is for the schematic design to be submitted to the commission in January and design details in May, he said.

The conceptual design and permits would be targeted for approval in August and the high school project would be bid-ready by October 2013, although it may be the end of 2013 or early 2014 before the project actually goes out to bid, Dingeldein said.