The 2019-20 school year is off to a great start.

Last month, I shared at our annual staff convocation that this year in Worthington, we're focusing on the "how."

How we care for our students.

How we work with our community.

How we, together, tackle the inevitable changes that we seek.

How we do anything means everything.

As part of the "how," we are putting the final touches on the design of our remodeled middle schools, balancing our high school enrollment and accommodating enrollment growth, which is phase 1 of our master facilities plan. Thanks to the input of our staff and community, our architects are making final changes to the design of the schools so that construction can begin this fall.

The purpose of the plan was to address the long-term facility needs of our schools – what we like to refer to as the "ABCs":

* The "A" stands for aging facilities. To address our aging schools, phase 1 of the plan will rebuild Worthingway and Perry/Phoenix middle schools and renovate all other middle schools, which are buildings that are in need of immediate repair. In addition, all schools will receive needed technology and equipment upgrades.

* The "B" stands for balancing high school enrollment. Earlier this year, a committee of parent representatives from each school building, as well as students, district leaders and board members, recommended, based on several factors that include capacity, drive time and route, balancing socioeconomic factors and diversity, that Slate Hill Elementary School students go to Worthington Kilbourne High School. That means current Worthingway seventh-graders that came from Slate Hill will attend Kilbourne as ninth-graders in fall 2021. In October, the feeder-pattern committee will reconvene to determine which elementary schools feed to which middle schools.

* The "C" stands for capacity for all students. By the 2021-22 school year, we project our enrollment will be at an all-time high, surpassing our previous enrollment record of 10,818 in 1995. The renovated middle schools have been designed to provide additional space for the district's growing enrollment and to accommodate sixth-graders in our middle schools, starting in the 2021-22 school year.

In about a month, residents who live near our middle schools – Worthingway, Perry/Phoenix, McCord and Kilbourne – may begin to see the site being prepared for construction. Neighbors can expect to see large equipment and fences appear around the schools.

Anyone who has built or renovated a home knows it sometimes can be disruptive to our daily routines. Our goal is to work with our families, staff and community to make sure this process goes as smoothly and safely as possible.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Worthingway and Oct. 15 at Perry/Phoenix, we will hold community meetings so we can share with you not only the latest designs for our middle schools, but also what neighbors can expect throughout the construction process. We invite you to attend so you remain informed about the "ABCs" and receive answers to any questions you might have about the construction sites.

How we handle our facilities challenges will impact our community for generations to come. I look forward to working with our community to ensure we address our needs appropriately, while maintaining the quality of schools that our community expects.

Trent Bowers is superintendent of Worthington Schools. Contact him by email at tbowers@wscloud.org.