Pickerington Schools officials are spending the summer looking to create any additional space possible in several schools as they prepare for continued enrollment growth this year and in years to come.

Pickerington High School Central, the district's two junior high schools and its seven elementary school buildings are in the midst of minor transformations in various areas this summer break.

According to information provided by Pickerington Schools Assistant Superintendent Bob Blackburn enrollments for the schools being renovated this summer -- with 2018-19 enrollment listed first, followed by the 2019-20 estimated enrollments -- are:

* Heritage Elementary School, 336 (2018-2019) and 363 (2019-20)

* Pickerington Elementary School, 437 and 470

* Violet Elementary School, 476 and 498

* Fairfield Elementary School, 501 and 532

* Tussing Elementary School, 535 and 601

* Sycamore Creek Elementary School, 600 and 593

* Toll Gate Elementary School, 713 and 739

* Lakeview Junior High School, 782 and 816

* Ridgeview Junior High School, 914 and 933

* Central, 1,815 and 1,914

"We had contracted with Cooperative Strategies during the 2018-19 school year to complete an enrollment study on the district," Blackburn said.

In addition to the renovations, site work is underway on roughly 40 acres of a 68-acre site the district owns on Lockville Road south of Opportunity Way, known as the McGill property.

According to district business manager Vince Utterback all of the projects are being designed to help manage growth.

The biggest project is the site preparation work going on at the McGill property.

On Feb. 25, the Pickerington school board unanimously approved a $1.3 million contract for John Eramo & Sons to conduct site grading and utilities preparation for what district officials have said will be a future school use, such as an additional school building campus.

After the initial project announcement, administrators from the district rolled out a plan under which a new junior high school would be built on the site, pending the passage of a bond issue that could be put before voters as soon as November 2020.

Utterback said work at the McGill property was started April 1, and is expected to extend through Aug. 31.

"It's a master grading plan and putting in utilities so that we don't have to do as much work when we do want to put a building there," he said. "The whole idea is to, in the future, put a junior high there.

"That would be a big positive and plus in getting the site ready for a building."

Requesting placement of a bond issue on the ballot to finance a new junior high still requires board approval.

If a tax issue would be approved plans call for the district to build a new junior high on the site that could serve up to 1,100 students.

Ridgeview STEM Junior High School then would be converted into a building that, on one side, would serve K-4 students who currently attend Heritage.

Additionally, Ridgeview would serve fifth- and sixth-grade students in a separate area of the building, and students from the district's Gateway Academy, a gifted program for students with superior cognitive skills.

Under the proposal, which would require board approval, Heritage would be converted into the permanent home of the district's preschool program. It also would house the district's Welcome Center, an office that processes new students enrolling in the district.

Long-term plans call for PHS Central to be expanded to add 24 classrooms, the renovation of the school's main entry for better security and an expanded cafeteria.

Likewise, Pickerington High School North would see the addition of 18 classrooms and construction of a more secure main entry.

Those long-term plans are being driven by the district's enrollment projections that estimate its districtwide enrollment will grow from 10,600 students to 12,400 over 10 years.

Those same projections anticipate enrollment to grow by 1,000 students over the next five years.

That's why the district is plans to spend about $150,000 - between $30,000 to $80,000 at various schools - this summer for renovations.

At Central, Utterback said, "It's taking spaces in the building and trying to re-utilize them the best we can."

Utterback said the district's work at Central this summer includes tearing out old locker room bays and adding "resource rooms," where personalized tutoring can take place.

In recent years, tutoring has had to occur in classrooms as other students are being instructed.

"That's getting pretty desperate, if you think about it," Utterback said. "We're trying to add whatever space we can.

"We'll probably be out of options within a year."

At Ridgeview, work includes converting an old room used for wrestling into a band room.

"We're renovating space to add additional classrooms wherever we can to make sure we have enough room for kids," Utterback said. "We're creating the equivalent of two new classrooms and two tutor rooms."

At Lakeview, a home-economics classroom is being divided to create two classrooms.

Utterback said similar projects are being done at each of the district's seven elementary schools, as the district predicts continued enrollment growth at each building.

"There's a lot of subdivision growth and we're currently trying to make sure we have space for when school starts," he said. "Because of the housing growth, we're waiting to see what the registration will be."

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