An educational technology company, Capital University classes and Rockbridge Academy may take over some of the empty classrooms at Perry Middle School.

An educational technology company, Capital University classes and Rockbridge Academy may take over some of the empty classrooms at Perry Middle School.

After moving Perry students to McCord Middle School this year as a cost-saving measure, educators are now considering ways to make the vacant space pay off.

The Phoenix program, which is the district's alternative middle school, is housed at Perry. But it has only 165 students, and educators have at least temporarily abandoned the idea of expanding the program.

A year ago, administrators said they were considering either adding more seventh- and eighth-graders to the Phoenix program, or expanding it to include fifth- and sixth-graders.

But any expansion would mean hiring new staff, and that is something the district cannot afford right now, said administrator Mark Glasbrenner.

Until this school year, Phoenix had shared the building with the regular Perry Middle School program. With many parents objecting, the board decided a year ago to move the approximately 150 Perry students to McCord.

According to a recently completed facilities study, the capacity of the Perry building is either 653 or 720 students. Both numbers are cited in the report.

Moving Rockbridge Academy into Perry would allow the district to continue the program, which enables students who have been suspended or expelled to continue to attemd school.

The district pays $30,000 a year to lease classroom space for Rockbridge at the Ohio State University/Harding Hospital campus.

Grandview Heights, Upper Arlington, Olentangy and Delaware pay for a total of 30 available seats. That money is used to pay staff, Glasbrenner said.

Another possible Perry tenant is the Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association (TRECA), a company that provides technology support, online courses and other computer-related services to school districts.

Located in Marion, the company employs 64, according to its website.

One possibility is providing space for TRECA in exchange for in-kind services. With the district planning to rely more on programs that allow students to work independently, the need for such services will be growing, Glasbrenner said.

Local educators have had one discussion with the company, and a second is planned, he said.

Capital is considering using the Perry classrooms for undergraduate and graduate-level courses, Glasbrenner said.

If a deal is made, it could also include in-kind services, such as providing courses for Worthington teachers or programs for Worthington students.

Glasbrenner emphasized that no leases have been signed, that negotiations with both TRECA and Capital are in early stages.

"We're very confident we'll find a good partner, but we're not there yet," he said.