Some Gahanna-Jefferson Public School District school board members took a tour of several schools last week to check out summer renovations made possible by voters' approval of a 1.22-mill bond issue in May 2018.

"We're incredibly grateful to our community for passing phase 1 of the master facility plan and investing in our students by investing in their buildings," said Beryl Brown Piccolantonio, school board president. "It was wonderful to see those dollars at work, creating better spaces for our children to learn, with more bright and open rooms and more flexible furniture."

Piccolantonio, board vice president Daphne Moehring, board member Matthew Campbell and district administrators on Sept. 23 took a tour of Royal Manor Elementary School, 299 Empire Drive; Gahanna Middle School West, 350 Stygler Road; and Chapelfield Elementary School, 280 Chapelfield Road.

In the first phase of its masters facilities plan, the district renovated classrooms with new furniture, Superintendent Steve Barrett said.

"In some of our buildings this summer, we got new flooring," he said. "And we have this beautiful, soft LED lighting we put in. We put this (lighting) in every classroom at Middle School West."

Barrett said all K-8 buildings in the district will receive the new energy-efficient lighting except Lincoln Elementary School, which is being replaced by a new building.

He said the change from traditional lighting to LED is estimated to save up to $120,000 annually.

The renovations in all K-8 classrooms, media centers and restrooms, as well as furniture replacement, are being financed through the 1.22-mill, 30-year bond issue. A 4.28-mill continuing (permanent) operating levy was approved at the same time, for a total of 5.5 mills, to finance a new elementary school being built on Helmbright Drive to replace Lincoln Elementary School.

"Middle School West needed an update," Barrett said. "We're really grateful to our community for supporting a bond issue that was passed in 2018."

He said asbestos was abated and flooring replaced at Middle School West and Goshen Lane Elementary School.

Flooring also was replaced at Middle School South.

Barrett said the district would continue to abate asbestos as needed and replace flooring for the remaining K-8 buildings during the summers of 2020 and 2021.

"The eight weeks we have in the summer is a short period of time, but we got a lot done," he said.

In addition to the buildings improvements, the first phase includes a feasibility study to develop high school options for community consideration.

Barrett said coffee discussions and community meetings are planned for later this fall to discuss the needs of Gahanna Lincoln High School.

He said everything is under consideration as the community helps identify a workable solution for those needs.