Barring any delays in the timetable, Upper Arlington Schools will complete a $230 million overhaul by fall 2022 that will result in what Superintendent Paul Imhoff said will be "future-ready" buildings that will better prepare students for "real-world professions."

But there's a lot of construction to get through first.

Following the completion of a new $2.15 million athletics complex featuring an artificial turf field and baseball and softball diamonds in September, the latest step was approval of renovation plans for the elementary schools.

"All the elementaries are into the final phase, which is called CD or construction documents," Imhoff said. "That means the documents are being prepared and they'll be used to price the jobs.

"The high school is almost to that point. The high school is due to roll over into that final phase ... at a special meeting we're having Nov. 19," he said.. "That's where we'll also do the budget reconciliation."

The work is being funded by a 5.17-mill bond issue local voters approved last November as part of Issue 43. The bond will provide about $230 million for the projects, according to district officials.

In a recent update, Imhoff said the work will make the five elementary schools and the high school able to accommodate both enrollment growth and the educational needs of students for the next 50 years.

Because funding for the improvements comes entirely from the bond, Imhoff reiterated that the projects will stay within the $230 million cost set for the six buildings.

"We have no mechanism to go over budget," he said. "The project continues to be on schedule and we're on budget. Those are the things that are, obviously, a big deal to us."

Plans for UAHS

Some of the elements expected to be included at the new UAHS, according to Imhoff, are 395,000 square feet of learning space -- over 100,000 square feet more than the old building; multiple outdoor learning spaces, including a dining plaza and "green" rooftop courtyard; a three-story comprehensive building, including 8,000 square feet of mezzanine space and multiple collaborative "commons" areas; expanded arts and athletics facilities, including a 1,500-seat auditorium, a black-box theater, a 10-lane natatorium, a three-court multipurpose gym and a varsity gym featuring one main court or three practice courts; and a stadium that will feature a new track, new home bleachers and press box, new concession stands, additional storage and a new north entrance.

Elementary schools

Approved designs for the elementary schools include:

* Barrington Elementary: 25,000 square feet will be added, bringing the building to 110,000 square feet. Plans also call for a renovated kitchen/cafeteria common area; 36 classrooms in six learning "neighborhoods"; a new centralized media center; and a new outdoor learning space and playground.

* Greensview Elementary: New construction and renovation will total 76,000 square feet, compared with 49,000 square feet in the old building. This will include 24 classrooms in six learning "neighborhoods"; a new kitchen/serving area, a new, larger gym, a centralized media center and a new outdoor learning space.

* Tremont Elementary: The addition of 7,000 square feet will bring the building to 86,000 square feet; renovations to the original two-story classroom building will include five new kindergarten rooms and 30 total classrooms in six learning "neighborhoods"; a new centralized media center and new outdoor learning space.

* Wickliffe Progressive: Construction of a new building totaling 73,773 square feet, compared with 51,000 square feet in the current school, will include 24 classrooms in six learning "neighborhoods." Wickliffe also will get a new centralized media center, kitchen/cafeteria common area and new outdoor learning space.

* Windermere Elementary: A new building will be constructed totaling 73,773 square feet, compared with 55,000 square feet in the existing school. Plans call for 24 classrooms in six learning "neighborhoods"; a new, centralized media center, new kitchen/cafeteria common area and new outdoor learning space.

Design elements

The schools are, on average, more 60 years old, Imhoff said, but aside from that, he said, the primary reason the district needs to upgrade is to make the buildings more in line with educational practices and philosophies that will better prepare students to for "real-world" professions.

"The board has really given us a charge, and I believe the community has supported it, to design future-ready schools," he said. "These schools have been designed to be very different, quite frankly, than other schools that have been designed recently across the state.

"From the outside, they're going to look the same as every other school. But on the inside, they are designed really to be future-ready."

Collaboration, creativity, problem-solving and communication skills are important elements of the new designs, Imhoff added.

He said the new and renovated buildings will feature flexible spaces that will support collaborative teaching, learning and problem-solving. There will be more glass to provide better natural lighting, and use of design elements such as garage doors to open and close spaces so they can accommodate large and small groups.

"Our collaboration space at the high school now is a couple kids in the hallway," Imhoff said. "Those buildings were built in the 1950s where it was all about preparing kids for more of a factory model during the Industrial Age.

"Now, there are collaboration spaces for kids to work together in different-size groups on projects and different types of things, which is in the real world," he said. "Our facilities hold us back currently. These facilities are really going to support that educational vision and philosophy."

In addition, he said, the new and renovated buildings will be constructed to address ongoing enrollment increases throughout the district.

"We're growing and we're growing quickly," he said. "We're at 6,200 students now and we're projected to be at 7,200 or more in the next decade.

"Without these buildings going up, we would be putting trailers outside of our buildings just to accommodate students. Luckily, we're not going to have to do that because the community chose to invest in this facilities work."

Construction timeline

Currently, the timeline calls for the construction of a new stadium at UAHS to begin in March. At the same time, Tremont Elementary will be prepped for the arrival of modular classrooms that will serve some classes during renovations at the school.

In late spring or early summer 2019, work will begin on the high school, as well as at Barrington, Greensview, Tremont and Wickliffe elementaries.

According to the district's schedule, the high school stadium will be completed next fall so that it's ready for competition at the outset of the next school year.

The timetable calls for Barrington to be prepped for modular classrooms in March 2020, and demolition of the current Windermere building to begin in June 2020, with a new school being built on its same footprint.

During work at Windermere, the existing Wickliffe building will serve as a transitional space for Windermere students for the 2020-21 school year.

The new Greensview and Wickliffe Progressive schools and a renovated Tremont will be open to students in fall 2020 to spring 2021.

The new Windermere and renovated Barrington schools, as well as the new UAHS, will open to students in fall 2021. Work to develop new athletics fields at the high school will continue during this time.

By fall 2022, the UAHS site is expected to be fully completed, bringing an end to the overall project.

Imhoff said meetings will be set up with parents to explain construction schedules and what safety measures will be taken during the work.

He added the district hopes to open each of the buildings to the public during phases of the construction and renovations so they can tour the ongoing work.


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