Delaware City Schools will launch an upgrade of all its school buildings in 2020, starting with additions at Schultz and Carlisle elementary schools and Dempsey Middle School.

The work will follow last May's voter approval of a $36.5 million "no new millage" bond issue that allows the district to transfer payments from older, retiring bonds to the new bond.

"We continue to be so grateful to our community for the support of our schools, and this is another example of the cooperation necessary to provide the space we need for our growing community," said Superintendent Heidi Kegley.

Jason Sherman, the district's director of facilities and transportation, said 2020 will see the district seek bids on construction of additional space at Schultz, 499 Applegate Lane; a 2-story addition at Dempsey, 599 Pennsylvania Ave.; and added space at the main entrance of Carlisle, 746 W. Central Ave.

Schultz will receive two new sections to provide space for 10 classrooms, a multipurpose art room and an expanded kitchen, he said.

The current kitchen is limited to serving food that's prepared at the Willis Education Center, 74 W. William St., and delivered to Schultz, Sherman said.

The remodeled kitchen will allow food to be prepared at Schultz with the addition of a freezer, a cooler, an oven and steam tables, he said.

The new art room will allow an existing art room to be reconfigured for office space, he said.

Another big change will double the amount of space available for parents arriving by car to deliver and pick up students at the building.

Sherman said most of Schultz's students live on the west side of Delaware, south of William Street, which means many students don't ride buses.

As a result, the end of each school day sees parents in cars lined up two abreast in the front parking lot as they wait for their children. Vehicles often back up into Willow Run Lane or Applegate Drive, Sherman said.

As part of the renovations, a new bus loop will be added south of the building, allowing parents to use both the existing front lot and the current bus loop, he said.

The new classrooms "will have an LED monitor on the wall. We've gone from blackboards to whiteboards to smartboards and now we're at monitors," Sherman said.

"They'll still have whiteboards to write on, as well," he said. "We're looking to do some different things with colors to try and make it visually interesting. We're looking at some different styles of furniture that we might incorporate into the classroom, but outside of that, we're not looking at anything groundbreaking."

Schultz was built in 1995, district spokeswoman Jennifer Ruhe said, so the same type of building materials are available and the additions' exteriors can match the existing building.

Construction at Schultz is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by the 2021-22 school year.

Ruhe said a considerable amount of construction could occur with minimal disruption to the rest of the building. Some of the work, such as remodeling office space, will take place when students are on break, she said.

"We're adding a new wing (for the classrooms)," Ruhe said. "That's how we can really get started in the spring and work throughout the school year."

When the school district bought the Dempsey property, it came with a 12,400-square-foot building, about 65 years old, that had been the headquarters of Greif Bros.

Sherman said the district had considered renovating the building but decided instead to raze it and build an addition that will hold 13 new classrooms, a larger activity room and an orchestra practice room.

Ruhe said the addition at Carlisle is needed to accommodate a more-secure entrance to the school. When the work is completed, all district buildings will force visitors to enter an office area as a security measure, she said.

The work also will allow Carlisle to gain a new classroom from the existing space, Ruhe said.

When all of the projects are completed, Woodward and Conger elementary schools also will have additional space, and facility upgrades will occur at Hayes High School and Smith Elementary School, as well.

Sherman said an existing water-cooling air-conditioning tower used at Hayes will be replaced with an air-cooled system that also will add air conditioning for the first time to the auxiliary gym.

Another goal for 2020, Kegley said, is to update the district's strategic plan.

Instead of listing specific objectives, the plan will be a guiding document that will influence teaching, learning and social-emotional wellness, she said.

The district has formed three groups -- including school board members, staff members and residents -- of about 25 people each to review the plan, she said. The effort also will involve focus groups.

"We want to ensure we are looking at the goals for the district, that they are aligned with stakeholders, internal and external, to ensure academic success," she said.

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