The Reynoldsburg Board of Education voted unanimously March 19 to award a $1.6 million contract to Hilliard-based Summit Construction LLC to remodel Reynoldsburg High School, 6699 E. Livingston Ave., to accommodate the district's new 9X Impact program for freshmen.

Work will start "the day after school is out," said Chris Reed, the district's director of operations and services. "I feel very confident that we will be done and renovated by day one of school."

The project is a race against time -- the next school year starts Aug. 19. Officials expect an incoming freshman class of about 540 students.

In January, the board agreed to waive the competitive bidding process in order to fast-track renovations.

Ohio law allows this to happen in cases of "urgent necessity."

Reed worked with Schorr Architects, which designed the new space and helped select the general contractor.

Instead of choosing one of four high school academies at the end of eighth grade, all ninth-graders will be together as freshmen in the new 9X Impact program, which will be housed on the building's second floor.

Through 9X Impact, freshmen will have an entire year to decide on a high school academy to attend for grades 10-12:

* (HS)2: a STEM-based approached to health and human services

* BELL: a college prep course focusing on business, education, leadership and law

* e-STEM: science, technology, engineering and math-based learning

* Encore: focusing on performing and visual arts

The renovations will include previously planned "TLC" such as replacing an elevator, painting and removing lockers, while other upgrades will be driven by the new 9X Impact program.

Those changes include relocating second-floor lab space, knocking down parts of some walls and replacing others with roll-up style doors to allow for flexible collaboration space.

"It's somewhat mimicking our Summit (Road) high school campus" where walls open like envelopes, Reed said.

Exterior work at the Livingston Avenue campus will include concrete repairs and removing pillars on the east side of the building.

An existing door on that side will serve as the dedicated entrance for the 9X program, Reed said. Summer school classes will be held at the building from June 3-27 as planned, district officials said.

"There's going to be very little construction in certain parts of the building," Reed said. "The two current entrances and the lunchroom won't be impacted."

Students and staff voted via an online poll to help choose paint that will "infuse some color" into one of the district's oldest buildings, Reed said.

Shades of burnt orange, lime green and teal will complement "Raider" purple, he said.

"We didn't want to use our Raider gold because there's already so much yellowish-cream in the building," he said. "For the old-school people like me, who grew up on the east side, when I thought of Reynoldsburg, I always thought of Reynoldsburg High School. What it's all about is making it as appealing and learning-centric as possible."