For Worthington Schools, 2020 looks to be a year of continued growth and change as the district plans to upgrade facilities in response to increased enrollment, according to district leaders.

Superintendent Trent Bowers said an enrollment report shows the student population will increase from about 10,700 students to almost 12,100 students in the next 10 years.

Bowers said local housing turnover is creating growth.

"That means we need to continue with our plan to create capacity for all students," he said.

He said district officials would continue to work on implementing its master facilities plan in 2020, with construction underway at both Perry and Worthingway middle schools as a part of phase one. Both schools are expected to open in fall 2021.

"We'll see construction continue, and later this spring, we'll see construction begin at McCord Middle School and Kilbourne Middle School," he said.

Bowers said the goal with Perry and McCord is to make them sixth- through eighth-grade middle schools by fall 2021. He said the renovations would add around 800 more seats in the district.

"It won't accomplish all of our capacity needs with the enrollment projections we're seeing, but it helps," he said.

Bowers said another key part of getting ready for increased capacity is balancing enrollment among district schools. Decisions made in 2019 to change the middle and elementary school feeder patterns will play a big role in the coming years, he said.

Slate Hill Elementary School students will attend Worthington Kilbourne once they reach high school.

According to Assistant Superintendent Randy Banks, the current feeder pattern has students from Bluffsview, Brookside, Granby, Liberty and Worthington Hills elementary schools attending McCord Middle School.

Students who attend Colonial Hills, Evening Street and Wilson Hill elementary schools currently go to Kilbourne Middle School.

Students who attend Slate Hill, Worthington Estates and Worthington Park elementary schools currently attend Worthingway Middle School.

"Our students that are currently in seventh grade will be freshmen at Worthington Kilbourne," he said.

For 2020, Bowers said the educational impact of switching all middle schools to include students in sixth through eighth grades will come into focus.

He said the district has had a team working for about 18 months on what an academic day would look like and how transportation would be handled. Plans are set to be released in April and meetings will be held with all elementary parents, he said.

Bowers said district leaders and parents should have 15 months to troubleshoot any issues before the plan goes into effect in 2021.

The new year also brings negotiations for part of the former Harding Hospital property, 445 E. Dublin-Granville Road, as a potential site for a new Colonial Hills Elementary School.

The property is owned by the I Am Boundless Inc. nonprofit organization. The district is interested in 17.8 of 44 acres that I Am Boundless Inc. has determined it doesn't need.

"We've met with them several times," Bowers said. "We expect to negotiations to begin in that January-to-March timeframe."

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