Worthington City Schools' facilities plan still is in process, despite an original timeline for a final presentation May 22.
The district has worked for more than a year to develop a facilities master plan, utilizing the DeJong-Richter planning firm, a 50-member community task force and residents' feedback after eight public forums.
Superintendent Trent Bowers said the new "final presentation" date is yet to be determined, but the task force is getting closer.
"Getting it done correctly is more important than meeting an arbitrary date," he said.
He said the school board has scheduled a work session for 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Worthington Education Center, 200 E. Wilson Bridge Road.
"The board will look at potential plans and ask questions of our facilities consultant," Bowers said. "Our community task force will meet one more time after that.
"When the task force is ready to make a recommendation to the school board, we will communicate the selected date out to the community as widely as possible."
A facilities study last year determined that seven of the district's aging buildings -- many of which are more than 50 years old -- should be renovated or replaced.
The study also determined the fix could be costly -- well more than $200 million.
Increasing student enrollment means most buildings are at capacity, and some are well over capacity, Bowers said. The district has two high schools and two alternative high schools, three middle schools, 11 elementary schools and one preschool building.
"It may be hard to believe in our 'landlocked' school district, but we are seeing a dramatic increase in student enrollment," he said. "Worthington is currently in the top 10 in student-enrollment growth in the state of Ohio. We only have one empty classroom in the entire district."
He said enrollment has increased by 877 students since 2012 and an additional 800 are projected in the next five years. Enrollment for the past school year was 9,848 in kindergarten through grade 12, according to the latest five-year forecast.
"This is an urgent situation that has caused us to implement short-term solutions, such as having Evening Street's sixth-graders attend Kilbourne Middle School and placing temporary classroom trailers at Colonial Hills and Worthington Hills (elementary schools)," Bowers said.
The temporary fixes won't make much of a dent in the problem, he said.
"It's important that we come up with a responsible plan that creates stability in our school buildings and is flexible enough to accommodate changes in enrollment," Bowers said.
With the help of Tracy Richter of DeJong-Richter, the district convened the community task force, conducted a number of online surveys on its website and gathered feedback on the problem from the eight public forums.
School board member Marc Schare said the process has been more difficult than anticipated.
"The entire facilities project is starting to take on the aura of the old Rubik's Cube, where you get one or two sides exactly the way you want them only to find that the other side is completely out of whack," he said.
The latest options being considered by the task force could mean major changes:
* The first option would make Kilbourne Middle School an elementary school, possibly a magnet elementary school, leaving the district with two middle schools.
The district would keep its K-6 and 7-8 grade configurations, but land might have to be purchased to build one more elementary school.
Boundary adjustments and feeder-pattern changes would be required on all grade levels.
The cost for the first option could be $166 million, not counting the land-purchase cost.
* In the second option, which could cost $167.2 million, a new middle school would be built on purchased land, meaning the district would have four middle schools. The district would change to a K-5 and 6-8 grade configuration, and feeder adjustments, but not boundary changes, would have to be made for most grade levels.
Bowers said district leaders cannot sit back and do nothing.
"Doing nothing means the district will have to invest in costly, short-term fixes, such as temporary trailers at many of our schools and year-to-year decisions for school-building enrollment," he said. "We are spending more and more dollars patching and repairing our aging schools, which could impact the dollars spent in the classroom."
Richter said even though the district once enrolled 10,700 students, that many currently could not be accommodated. The projected 800 additional students over the next five years would put the district near that figure.
"The district's existing facilities were constructed previous to their existing programs and services," he said.
Richter said the square footage for the district's 11 elementary schools falls 41,730 feet below the state's standard square footage, which is 125 square feet per student. The state-recommended standard would be 719,250 square feet for Worthington's elementary schools, but the existing square footage is 677,520 feet.
Bowers said he is confident the task force can find a fix community members would accept.
"Growth is a good thing, but it necessitates change," he said. "We're attempting to work to create change that is beneficial to the students and also puts Worthington in a strong position for years to come."