Worthington Schools is moving forward with the transition to add sixth-graders to middle schools after the approval of issues 9 and 10 on Nov. 6.
Issue 9 is a 2.58-mill, $89 million bond that will be used to upgrade technology in all school buildings, purchase new buses, make repairs to all middle schools and help rebuild Perry and Worthingway middle schools.
Issue 10 is a permanent incremental operating levy that will start at 2.9 mills and increase by 2 mills each year until it caps at 8.9 mills in the fourth year.
Both issues will cost taxpayers a combined total of $191 per $100,000 of property value in the first year, according to treasurer Jeff McCuen. Worthington Schools residents currently pay $1,545 per $100,000 of property value in district taxes, McCuen said.
Superintendent Trent Bowers said the district is working toward a fall 2021 opening of the renovated middle schools that will include students in sixth through eighth grade.
Currently, sixth-grade classes are held in the elementary buildings.
Bowers said an education team is working with sixth-grade teachers, elementary students, parents and community members to build a "middle school learner profile" to help determine what they want a middle school student to learn.
He said the education team also asked high school students for input on what they wish they would have learned in middle school.
"We don't just want to add sixth grade on," he said.
The middle school learner profile was presented at the Nov. 26 school board meeting.
Bowers said the district would create a middle school feeder pattern, which would determine through a committee which middle school students should attend. He said the plan will allow students to attend school with the same group of students all the way until graduation.
"Nobody who's currently in high school or middle school will have to change schools," Bowers said.
He said a explanation of all of the changes planned will be mailed to district residents in February.
Jeff Eble, director of business for the district, said district officials almost are finished determining how the middle school spaces would be used.
Eble said the district has a group of residents and teachers looking at "how we want those things to happen."
He said construction on the middle schools is scheduled from January 2020 to June 2021.
Both Phoenix Middle School, which is housed in the Perry Middle School building, and Worthingway Middle School will need a significant amount of space added, he said.
Eble said the other two middle schools, Kilbourne and McCord, would have more minimal additions.
"All four are going to have different issues," he said.
In terms of immediate changes, Bowers said that due to the passage of Issue 10, the district is able to hire three health-office assistants. As a result, every school building would have one health-office assistant, who would be a licensed practical nurse, and one registered nurse.
He said the current staff must rotate among buildings in shifts, leaving some without nurses for periods of time.
He said the district would interview for these positions in the coming weeks.
Bowers also said the district would replace its phone system and install a landline in every classroom so teachers are able to dial out in case of an emergency.
"Currently, we have a number of elementary schools that don't have cell coverage," he said.
He said he hopes these changes would make students at all levels safer.
"Our goal is to make it so there are no gaps in coverage," he said about the phone coverage and additional nurses.