Many buildings in the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools are receiving new furniture this summer and seeing some renovations, thanks to a bond issue voters approved in May 2018.
A 1.22-mill, 30-year bond issue and a 4.28-mill continuing (permanent) operating levy, for a total of 5.5 mills, were successful at the ballot box and are financing a new elementary school being built on Helmbright Drive to replace Lincoln Elementary School.
The bond is covering the cost of furniture replacement as well as renovating restrooms, media centers and classrooms in K-8 buildings.
Superintendent Steve Barrett said one of the things important to the district is improvement of the facilities every summer.
"From the bond, we're putting new classroom furniture in every elementary except Lincoln," he said. "We're rebuilding the new Lincoln. The furniture is being moved in and put together. It's looking fantastic."
Barrett said the old classroom furniture is being donated to Institution Recycling Network.
"They're like the middle man," he said. "They expedite the process to get it to nonprofits in the U.S. and Africa."
Barrett said the district values the renovated learning spaces.
"They will foster the development of collaboration, innovation and problem-solving," he said. "We really value flexible learning environments where kids can collaborate -- bright spaces where they can connect with one another and what they're learning. We're excited about making our classrooms look great."
Judy Hengstebeck, the district's communications coordinator, said teachers had a large part in picking out the new furniture that allows collaboration between students and addresses various learning styles in a classroom setting.
She said a "furniture showcase" with many styles of desks, tables and chairs was set up for teachers to try out then choose their favorite pieces.
"Administrators met with teachers at each building and listened to their recommendations based on grade-level needs," Hengstebeck said.
She said all elementary and middle school classrooms are receiving new "movable furniture," such as desks, tables and chairs.
Larger and more permanent items such as storage units and cubbies will be installed next year, according to Hengstebeck.
The bond issue also is financing the replacement of flooring this summer at Goshen Lane Elementary School, Middle School South and Middle School West, as well as restrooms at Chapelfield and Royal Manor elementary schools and Middle School West.
Media centers also are receiving updates at Middle School South and Middle School West.
Barrett said other improvements this summer are being covered by a 2.16-mill permanent-improvements levy that voters approved in November 2014.
That levy generates about $3 million annually and is earmarked for items with a life expectancy of at least five years, such as building repairs, buses and technology.
Barrett said the levy is funding some painting projects at High Point Elementary School, Middle School East, Middle School West and Lincoln High School.
"We're excited about what's happening," he said. "It freshens the look."
Barrett said the levy also is financing food-storage refrigeration units at Goshen Lane Elementary School and Middle School East.
"Now it's transported, so this will be a saving," he said.
Barrett said one issue the district faces is that only eight weeks are available to complete improvements during the summer.
"We are working at a brisk pace to complete as much as we can before teachers start returning in early August," Hengstebeck said.