For Worthington Schools, the new year means the start of big projects and changes to accommodate an enrollment increase.

On Nov. 6, the district saw the passage of Issues 9 and 10.

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.

Set for expansion

Superintendent Trent Bowers said the district already has started working on the transition to open sixth- through eighth-grade middle schools in fall 2021.

"We want to create a cohesive sixth- through eighth-grade program," Bowers said.

Sixth-grade classes currently are held at the elementary schools.

An education team is working with teachers, students, parents and members of the community to help determine what a middle school student needs to learn.

Bowers said the team has been working the past two months on the academic design of the renovated buildings.

Jeff Eble, director of business for the district, said construction on the buildings is scheduled from January 2020 to June 2021.

Eble said public meetings are scheduled for January so the district can get community input on construction plans.

Bowers said district leaders already have expressed the importance of buildings wiith natural light and sustainability.

He also said the district is aware of the challenges presented by the buildings being located tightly in neighborhoods and that working with the neighbors will be important.

"We're very cognizant that our schools are in neighborhoods," he said.

Bowers also said district officials are looking to change school feeder patterns to help balance enrollment at the high schools. He said they plan to move an elementary school that currently feeds into Thomas Worthington High School into Worthington Kilbourne High School. Bowers said a feeder-pattern committee with representation from all schools in the district will begin meeting in January. A recommendation is expected to be sent to the board of education in March or April, he said.

Continued growth

Bowers said when the district opens for the 2019-2020 school year, an enrollment of more than 10,500 students. Total enrollment at the beginning of the 2018 school year was 10,363, Bowers said. Enrollment has increased by 1,000 since 2012 and is expected to increase by 800 students in the next five years, district leaders have said.

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