With the conclusion of a design process that began in December 2017, Upper Arlington Schools officials are ready to move forward with $230 million in rebuilds and renovations to Upper Arlington High School and five elementary school.
Superintendent Paul Imhoff led a final community meeting Jan. 22 to discuss the design plans for sweeping upgrades to the buildings.
Now the projects are being put out to bid; a groundbreaking ceremony for the high school work is slated for April 7 and similar events will be held for Barrington, Greensview, Tremont and Wickliffe elementary schools May 19.
Work on those five buildings and at Windermere Elementary next year is designed to create "future-ready" classrooms and athletics spaces for top-level learning and competition opportunities, while accommodating projected enrollment growth.
"We are growing," Imhoff said. "We are anticipating to grow by 20 percent over the next decade.
"What is happening here is, more and more of our homes are being purchased by people who have families or are going to have families. We have been planning our schools to accommodate for that growth."
Imhoff said the district is working to minimize inconveniences the work will have on neighboring residents, but asked community members to be patient.
"I wish I could make this seamless and easy," he said. "It's going to be difficult.
"We're all going to have to sacrifice up front."
In finalizing designs for bids, Imhoff noted there still could be some alterations for project plans at each building if costs come back higher than the $230 million budget the district was afforded when local voters approved Issue 43 in November. That issue included a 5.17-mill bond that's financing the work.
"We have planned carefully, we have estimated carefully," he said. "In the unlikely event the bids come in over budget, we will make (plan) adjustments."
Site work for a reconstruction is expected to begin next month. The new high school is scheduled to open in fall 2021.
When it does, it will feature 395,000 square feet of learning space, an increase of more than 100,000 square feet from the existing building.
It will be a three-story building highlighted by Golden Bear Boulevard, a 50-foot-wide hallway around which most of the building's elements were designed.
"Golden Bear Boulevard is a major organizing element of the design," said Steven Turckes, a principal and K-12 global education leader with the architectural firm Perkins + Will. "It's the main circulation spine that everything sort of feeds off."
UAHS will have multiple outdoor learning spaces and expanded arts and athletics facilities, including a 1,500-seat auditorium, a 10-lane natatorium and a new football stadium.
Work will begin at Barrington in late spring, with the scheduled opening of the renovated school set for fall 2021.
The school will have 25,000 more square feet, bringing its total size to 110,000 square feet. It will have a remodeled kitchen and cafeteria, 36 classrooms in six learning "neighborhoods" and a new, centralized media center.
Barrington also will receive new outdoor learning space and a new playground.
Work at Greensview is slated to begin this spring, with the new school scheduled to open in fall 2020.
The project will include new construction and renovation totaling 76,000 square feet, adding 27,000 square feet to the existing school.
The new school will feature 24 classrooms in six learning neighborhoods, a new, larger gymnasium, a new kitchen and serving area and a new, centralized media center. It also will have new outdoor learning space.
Groundbreaking at Tremont is slated for this May and the renovated school will open in fall 2020.
Plans call for the addition of 7,000 square feet, bringing the total size of the building to 86,000 square feet.
There also will be renovations to the original, two-story building that will include five new kindergarten rooms and 30 total classrooms in six learning neighborhoods.
A new, centralized media center and outdoor learning space also are planned.
Work on a new Wickliffe building will start this spring, and it's expected to be opened in fall 2020.
The new building will total 73,773 square feet, compared to the 51,000-square-foot existing building.
It will house 24 classrooms in six learning neighborhoods and will feature a new, centralized media center and a new kitchen and cafeteria, as well as new outdoor learning space.
When the new school opens, the old Wickliffe building will serve as transitional space for Windermere students for the 2020-21 school year.
"We're using the current Wickliffe building as a swing building for one year to allow that to happen," Turckes said. "The benefit of that is it keeps kids out of trailers for a year -- out of mobile classrooms."
The exiting Windermere Elementary building is slated to be razed in June 2020 with a new school expected to open in fall 2021.
The new school will be 73,773 square feet, which will be 18,773 square feet larger than the current Windermere building.
The new school will include 24 classrooms in six learning neighborhoods, a new, centralized media center, a new kitchen and cafeteria and new outdoor learning space.
Imhoff said the exterior of the buildings largely will look similar to what residents are familiar with, which was done so the structures would continue to fit architecturally with surrounding neighborhoods.
The interiors of the schools, however, will be modernized to allow for upgraded technology and flexible-learning spaces.
"Many of our classrooms are being designed around common areas and many of the classrooms have large, overhead doors that you can close or open into those areas," he said.
"That's all about having flexible space."
Imhoff also said the new and updated buildings will be constructed with the newest and best safety designs.
He said they will have "all the appropriate safety features, but we're not going to talk about all of them for safety purposes."