The opening of a new middle school, the rebranding of two other buildings and the establishment of a new academy for the district's brightest students are a few of things Hilliard City Schools will deliver in 2018.
The $38 million, 140,000-square-foot Memorial Middle School is expected to open in August, adjacent to Bradley High School, 2800 Walker Road.
"We are excited to open (Memorial Middle School) in 2018," Superintendent John Marschhausen said.
The former Memorial at 5600 Scioto Darby Road will be rebranded as Station Sixth Grade School; the Station building at 3859 Main St. will become the Innovative Learning Hub.
In conjunction with these changes, the district will launch an academy for gifted students at Tharp Sixth Grade School.
Although the new middle school will have a similar look and feel to Heritage and Weaver, it will have a first-floor media center and "flexible spaces to allow us to personalize education," Marschhausen said, refinements learned from the opening of other new buildings.
The relocation of Memorial removes one of the district's larger schools from a high-traffic area during a construction project to widen Scioto Darby Road and build a roundabout at Scioto Darby and Leppert roads, Marschhausen said.
Meanwhile, the Innovative Learning Hub will become the third building of the McVey Innovative Learning Center campus, which is based at 5323 Cemetery Road.
"The Innovative Learning hub will be a great opportunity in 2018," Marschhausen said. "Right now, we have about 1,000 students a day (at the MILC and its annex building). Our goal is to ultimately have close to 2,500 students a day on the campus."
The reorganization and related attendance-boundary changes are expected to open up a little room at Tharp for the gifted-student academy, he said.
"In 2018, we will open a gifted academy, called the Arrow Academy, in some of the space we are creating at Tharp," Marschhausen said.
The academy will be open to fourth- and fifth-grade students who are "cognitively superior" from all 14 elementary schools, he said.
The academy evolved from the work of a gifted-student task force in 2016 and early 2017, Marschhausen said.
"The academy will become part of a spectrum of services for gifted students as we will continue to explore and look for better ways to serve all students in a continuum of services," he said.
Other goals for 2018
As it does each year, the district will complete permanent-improvements projects required to maintain its facilities.
About $4.6 million is budgeted each year for permanent improvements, said Assistant Superintendent Mike McDonough.
"Roofing and paving are always big hitters," he said.
A portion of the roof is expected to be replaced at the current Memorial as it transitions this summer into a sixth-grade school.
A portion of the roof at Darby High School also will be replaced, and paving projects are scheduled to be completed at Davidson and Darby high schools and at J.W. Reason Elementary School.
"We will also continue our (districtwide) program to improve security systems (in 2018)," McDonough said.
Taxpayers also should receive small breaks on their property-tax bills for 2018.
The district's effective millage for all its bond debt was projected to decrease from 7.4 mills to 6.8 mills in 2017, resulting in a decrease of about $21 for each $100,000 in assessed property value that is due in 2018, said district treasurer Brian Wilson.
Marschhausen said district leaders also would continue striving to collaborate with city officials.
Andy Teater, a three-term member of the school board, will take a seat on Hilliard City Council after being elected in November.
"(This year) brings a new dynamic with Teater being on City Council and I hope we continue to improve communications," Marschhausen said. "(Teater) will learn things that we see only through a district lens.
"Anytime you have someone (in a leadership role) who understands both viewpoints, it makes both groups better."