The Westerville City School District will welcome about 15,500 students back from break Thursday, Aug. 16.

Superintendent John Kellogg said he anticipates a 1 to 2 percent increase from last year's enrollment of 15,321 students.

"The process for enrolling someone is relatively easy," he said. "The process to withdraw is more complicated. It's always a seesaw. I think enrollment will be similar."

He said a major carryover in terms of work from last school year will be facility master-planning tasks.

"We're moving forward with South (High School's) renovation," he said. "That's in the design phase over the next few months, working toward construction at the end of the school year."

Kellogg said the school board is continuing to look at options and funding opportunities for other master-planning facility priorities.

The board has agreed to pursue facility upgrades for safety going into next summer, which includes items such as cameras and buzzer systems, he said.

"Then we're enhancing our training and drills to build for safety scenarios to increase preparedness for school safety and management," Kellogg said. "That will be big part of ongoing efforts."

He said the district wants to improve community awareness about what systems are in place without compromising plans.

Kellogg said a recommendation about a middle-school redesign would come near the end of the school year.

"We'll continue our efforts to address the social and emotional aspects of our students," he said. "We'll try to continue to better address those needs. We know that's an important issue for staff and community members."

Kellogg said the district knows its strengths and weaknesses with students' academic performance and would allocate resources where things need to get better.

"Most importantly, we want to look at the career component and improve opportunities there," he said.

District staffing

The district has seen many staff changes including a new role for former Genoa Middle School principal Mike Hinze, who is the new principal at Westerville South High School.

He fills a vacancy created by Mike Starner's resignation in taking the job of principal at Olentangy Liberty High School.

Kellogg said Hinze was an assistant principal at South for several years as well as principal at Genoa.

"Staff know him and three-quarters of the kids know him," he said.

Scott Gaddis, former assistant principal at Westerville North High School, is the new principal at Genoa Middle School, filling the vacancy created by Hinze's move.

Christopher Saiben has been hired as an assistant principal at Westerville North High School to fill the vacancy created by Gaddis becoming principal at Genoa.

Saiben joins Westerville from the Olentangy Local School District, where he served as assistant principal of Olentangy Orange High School and Olentangy Orange Middle School, said Greg Viebranz, Westerville's executive director of communication and technology.

Tammy Hanby, former guidance counselor at Westerville South, became an assistant principal at the school, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Crystal Harris.

Viebranz said the district's executive leadership team reviews staffing and organizational capacity at all instructional levels every year.

"As part of this process, it was determined that our high schools would benefit from the elimination of dean of students positions and the addition of an assistant principal position," he said.

Eric Nickel, former dean of students at Westerville Central High School, is now an assistant principal at the school.

William Ragland, who has been a principal intern at Westerville South, is now an assistant principal at Westerville North High School.

Julie Wilson, former dean of students at Westerville South, is now an assistant principal at the school.

With the elimination of dean of students positions and the addition of an assistant principal position, Viebranz said, each high school now has three assistant principals.

Among their many other duties, assistant principals provide supervision for after-school events and support the teacher-evaluation process.

Kellogg said the elimination of the dean of students role and addition of assistant principals is cost neutral.

"The requirement for teacher evaluations put pressure on buildings and regulatory stuff and we felt that was a need," he said.

Administrative changes at elementary schools include Earl Rahm, former principal at Annehurst Elementary School, becoming principal of Alcott Elementary School to replace Lauren DeMars, who resigned to relocate closer to family out of state.

Tabatha Wilburn is the new principal at Annehurst, filling the vacancy created when Rahm became the principal of Alcott.

Wilburn joins Westerville from London City Schools, where she was principal of London Elementary School.

Charles "Jim" Swain is the new principal at McVay Elementary School, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Scott May.

Swain previously worked as director of student services and principal of Park Avenue Elementary School in the Mount Gilead Exempted Village School District.

Jason Fullen, who completed a principal internship with Westerville last year at Walnut Springs Middle School, has been hired as an elementary assistant principal to provide additional support at Fouse, McVay and Pointview elementary schools.

Managerial changes

District-level administrative changes include Paul Hopkins as the new executive director of human resources and employee relations, replacing Lori Lofton, who resigned to become assistant superintendent of New Albany-Plain Local Schools. Hopkins joins Westerville from Battelle for Kids, where he has served as senior director of learning and leading since 2014.

Caley Baker, former technology integration coach, is the new gifted-education coordinator, replacing Vicki Jarrell, who resigned to relocate out of state and care for family.

Viebranz said there has been a restructuring and additional support provided in the district's purchasing and logistics department.

Becky Nitz, who was an assistant transportation manager last year, was elevated to transportation manager.

Janice Horn, who was a secretary in the transportation department last year, was promoted to assistant transportation manager to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Chris Winesette.

Randy Snyder returns to the district as assistant manager of purchasing and logistics to support the added logistics, vehicles (vans) and employee supervision resulting from bringing special-education transportation in-house. Snyder was an assistant transportation manager for Westerville before career moves to other central Ohio districts.

Lisa Smith, former speech language pathologist, is a new special education coordinator, filling a vacancy created by the retirement of Gail Walter.