The Hilliard City School District has announced an "innovative learning center" (ILC) will open in the fall of 2013 at the central office facility at 5323 Cemetery Road.

The Hilliard City School District has announced an "innovative learning center" (ILC) will open in the fall of 2013 at the central office facility at 5323 Cemetery Road.

"We expect that this is going to be a hub of energy and activity for our entire district," said Steve Estepp, the district's executive director of curriculum and instruction.

The ILC will be similar to Clark Hall at Gahanna Lincoln High School, but it will be available for students at all grade levels.

"We are going to create a very flexible learning space that's going to have different types of learning opportunities," Estepp said. "The types of things you're going to see going on under this roof would be things like our mentorship program for our high school students, resources and opportunities for our students to develop and implement their senior capstone experience.

"This will be our online learning hub, where students can participate in online learning and get teacher support in their online coursework. We're going to see distance learning and virtual field trips happening out of this building. We see this as being a place for college and career counseling, where our students can come for that type of support."

The ILC will also be a site for students of all three high schools to be in the same class that might otherwise be canceled because of low enrollment.

"We're looking to provide outreach services and some community programming, as well, that can take place out of the ILC," Estepp said.

The district said the ILC is the next step in its 2020 initiative to give students a 21st-century education.

"This is the next step in creating opportunities for 21st-century learning for students," Superintendent Dale McVey said in a statement. "The innovative learning center is focused on research-based strategic planning that is fiscally, operationally and educationally responsible. It meets the key findings of two community and staff committees and honors the core values of this community."

"To prepare students for their futures, for the type of work and experiences that they're going to encounter when they leave us, they need a different type of skill set and a different type of experience than we have traditionally been able to provide in schools," Estepp said. "What an environment like this is going to do is allow us to give students those innovative types of experiences.

"We think that this is the right move and the right step to take to keep us competitive. It's not about spending dollars above and beyond what we have allocated. It's about using resources and staffing differently. It keeps us competitive as a district, but most importantly, keeps our kids competitive to be successful in their future."

The district staff members currently working at the central office facility will move to the support services facility on Atlas Street. No changes are expected at the annex building, but the central office will become more open for students and teachers. The district said the ILC will incur no additional staffing costs.

The announcement about the ILC was first made at the school board meeting on April 9.

The school district will host meetings for the public on the 2020 initiative and the ILC at April 18 at Bradley High School, April 24 at Davidson High School and April 30 at Darby High School. All meetings will be at 7 p.m.