Westerville News & Public Opinion

Capital improvements levy

District sets final slate of five-year projects plan


An overhaul of single-paned windows at Westerville South High School and roofing improvements, HVAC work and door replacements will wrap up the final year of an aggressive five-year capital-improvement plan in the Westerville City School District.

The Westerville City Board of Education approved the last of the bids for 2014 summer improvement projects at its Feb. 24 meeting, as Business Operations Services Executive Director Jeff LeRose updated the board on the district's capital-improvements plans and projects.

The overall 2011-2015 plan included major projects, such as the acquisition and renovation of a former office building to create the Early Learning Center and Administrative Offices at 936 Eastwind Drive; the creation of the Academic Enrichment Center in the old administrative offices; the renovation and expansion of the district's transportation facility on East Walnut Street; the installation of artificial turf at all three high schools, and improvements to building exteriors throughout the district.

In all, the district had identified $65 million in capital-improvement needs, which included items such as school buses, technology and text books, when the 2011-2015 capital-improvement plan was drafted, LeRose said, but only $57 million in funds was available.

At the time, the district deferred $8 million in projects to stay within budget, LeRose said.

However, during the down economy over the last five years, the district was able to recapture much of that $8 million to fund projects by closely watching its contractors and finding rebates, LeRose said.

As it does each summer, the district will turn facilities in need of improvement over to contractors from the day after school ends -- this year May 24 -- through the week before the next school year commences.

"Every summer it's an aggressive (improvement) schedule. We get about 10 weeks to pull these off," LeRose said. "Every September, that's when it starts over. We begin the design work for the following year."

The total in summer improvement projects for 2011-2015 was $13.8 million, LeRose said.

For the next five-year capital-improvement plan, which will encompass fiscal years 2016 through 2020, the district projects spending $9.1 million on building improvements, LeRose said.

"We're now starting to work on the development of the next fiscal plan," he said.

LeRose, and members of the Westerville Board of Education, credited the success of the five-year plan with the community's support of its five-year capital-improvement levy, passed in 2009.

"We have been remarkably blessed in this community to have, for many years now, the replacement every five years of the cap improvements levy," said board President Nancy Nestor-Baker.

"That has allowed us to maintain our buildings."