Facilities are the top priority in the Westerville City School District this year.

Superintendent John Kellogg said the district would begin conversations with the community about facility recommendations from a citizens committee.

He said projects identified as critical include work on Westerville South High School, a new middle school and security/safety throughout the district.

"We're at an important juncture with infrastructure," Kellogg said. "That will be a big one. The board has looked at recommendations from a citizens group. We will look to the public. When looking at calendar year 2018-19, it will take some time."

He said the facilities piece opens the doors to other components.

"I would say there will be an important conversation with the community regarding facilities and the development of a 10-year facilities plan," Kellogg said.

He said the district has the opportunity to fund some, if not most, of the projects without going on the ballot.

"It's worth discussing with the taxpayer what it looks like," he said. "We will be back on the ballot sometime."

In the meantime, Kellogg said, the district will manage resources effectively and provide educational experiences people want.

"We build trust with the community every day," he said. "We will continue to do our best every day."

Kellogg said he looks forward to the conversations and creating a way to address facility needs that minimizes the impact to the general fund and maintains the district's five-year forecast.

Middle school redesign

Kellogg said another priority this year will be to organize a middle-school redesign team that will look at everything from classroom structure to curriculum and programming.

"We'll look at best practices we can bring to our sixth- to eighth-graders and enhance opportunities we create for our middle school students along that path to be college and career ready and have them more prepared when they enter high school so they can maximize their experience," he said.

When looking at performance of the student body, Kellogg said, there's a dip at the middle school level.

"It's an area where we get there's a need for more," he said.

The redesign team will be asked to develop world-class education for Westerville's middle school students, according to Kellogg.

"We will use their findings to bring positive changes to the middle school experience for students," he said.

Road map's next phase

A third priority for the schools will be a learning-and-teaching road map that Kellogg said is the district's way of looking at personalized learning and the use of digital devices and digital curriculum to support students.

Greg Viebranz, the district's executive director of communication and technology, said the district would implement the next phase of its learning-and-teaching road map, which is recommending a 1-1 device ratio for grades 6-12.

"The first roadmap got us to one device for every two students," Kellogg said. "This one gets us to a 1-1 ratio in grades 6-12."

He said access and use of technology in the classroom are important.

"It's an important element in the world and schools," Kellogg said. "We want more digital content. We're finalizing a plan to go 1-1 to put Chromebooks in the hands of every student in 6-12."

In grades K-5, he said, there can be a 1-1 ratio of devices in the classroom at any point.

"We're seeing growth with digital curriculum," Kellogg said. "We want to support that resource.

"There's a whole component of design and how to outfit a classroom with those components with what you want to see with teaching and learning in the 21st century."

Viebranz said the design of the classroom has changed from students staying in rows to "collaboration and controlled chaos," he said.

In all aspects, things have changed in the classroom for a lot of different reasons, Kellogg said.

"They (students) don't come in at the same point, but have this artificial finish line we're trying to get them at the same point," he said. "The design of classroom furniture and space all have a relationship. I think that's the big picture."