The Reynoldsburg Board of Education on April 16 approved more than $1 million in renovations and repairs to schools this summer.

That includes renovations at the Hannah Ashton Middle School library, 1482 Jackson St.

Summit Construction LLC was awarded a $42,050 construction contract for that project,with the renovation expected to be done in time for next school year.

Inventionland Institute, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was hired for $110,315 to transform about 2,200 square feet into a makerspace.

Popular in STEM-based education, makerspaces are areas where students can work on projects collaboratively, with a focus on technology and invention. They often are equipped with tools such as 3D printers, computers and audio-video editing software as well as arts-and-crafts supplies.

Plans for the Hannah Ashton makerspace include 12 double-sided dry-erase light panels, a recording studio with a green screen and sound-dampening equipment, and areas set aside for inventing and storytelling. Plans also call for teacher supplies, new furniture, painting and refinishing the floor.

The board declared the project an "urgent necessity," meaning Ohio law allows the competitive bidding process to be waived.

The design of the makerspace is proprietary to Inventionland, meaning Reynoldsburg did not have to pay an outside architect. That likely saved the district tens of thousands of dollars, said Chris Reed, Reynoldsburg's director of operations and services.

"If we would have gone out to bid, I don't think the design would have been what we've seen, and I don't think it would have been a good use of district resources," Reed said.

According to its website, Inventionland, based in Pittsburgh, is one of the country's largest invention and manufacturing incubators. Through its Inventionland Institute, the company has brought its project-based learning and creative thinking methods into K-12 classrooms across the U.S.

Superintendent Melvin Brown called the design for Hannah Ashton "gorgeous" and said it will allow the space to be better used.

The board also approved other projects, including:

* A $620,192 contract with Tierney Brothers for the purchase of Clevertouch-brand interactive "smart" panels for classrooms at the Summit and Livingston campuses of Reynoldsburg High School; Summit, Rose Hill and French Run elementary schools; and Baldwin Road Junior High School.

* A $148,000 contract with MegaLith LLC for a new scoreboard at Reynoldsburg High School stadium, 6699 E. Livingston Ave. The new scoreboard includes a live video screen and will give the district the ability to sell digital ads. It's expected to be installed in time for next school year.

* A $157,500 contract with General Temperature Control Inc. to replace water heaters at seven district buildings: Livingston high school campus, Waggoner Road Junior High; Waggoner Road and Hannah Ashton middle schools; and Slate Ridge, Rose Hill and Taylor Road elementary schools.

* A $49,650 contract with Summit Construction LLC to replace the roof on the school bus garage.

* A three-year contract with Genesis Building Systems Ltd., for fire and safety inspections at district buildings, at a cost of $36,963.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 22 at 7232 E. Main St.