UPDATED: Olentangy's 16th elementary school finds its home

JIM FISCHER
editorial@thisweeknews.com
A sign marks the location of Olentangy Schools' 16th elementary school on Peachblow Road west of Piatt Road.

Olentangy Schools has announced the location of its 16th elementary school.

The school – which doesn’t yet have a name – will be constructed on a 14-acre site on Peachblow Road west of Piatt Road in the new Berlin Meadows development.

Plans for the development, which will be between Shanahan and Peachblow roads and will include a planned extension of North Road, were approved by Berlin Township trustees in May.

The school’s main entrance will be off the new North Road extension.

“The new elementary facility ... will be in a strategic location,” said board member Dave King. “It is positioned to efficiently handle student population growth. It is designed to allow growth in student capacity.”

The school will be the first built with funding approved by voters in April. The three-part ballot issue included a $134.7 million, no-new-millage bond issue to fund the construction of a new middle school and two elementary schools.

The land was donated to the district by Kenney Asset Management, DRK and Metro Development, according to a press release from the district.

“As we embark on the construction of our 16th elementary school, I am proud of the strong partnership between public and private entities to help our schools,” said Superintendent Mark Raiff.

“The administration has been diligent in its search over several years in finding a strategic site and working cooperatively with the township, county and surrounding residential neighborhood developer. It is also significant that it is a gifted site,” King said.

Construction of the new elementary school is expected to be complete in time for the 2021-22 school year. The school board hired Robertson Construction Services to serve as construction manager for the project.

During a June 11 virtual meeting of the school board, Raiff said the site was chosen for its location in an area of rapid growth. Nearby Heritage, Arrowhead and Cheshire elementary schools, he said, are either at 800 students each or are projected to reach that benchmark in the next two years.

“This site is in a sweet spot,” Raiff said, “that will allow for minimal impact on redistricting.”

Regarding the new school’s name, Raiff said, sometimes the district has chosen to use the name of a development as a school name when land has been donated.

District spokeswoman Krista Davis told board members that public input on a new name would be solicited, per past district practice.

The 82,000-square-foot, $23.6 million elementary school will be similar in design to the district’s other elementary schools, with some modifications, according to a press release.

Bruce Runyon, architect with Fanning Howey, told board members the new school would be about 10,000 square feet larger than previous elementary schools, allowing for additional classroom space as suggested in meetings with chief academic officer Jack Fette, elementary school principals and district operations and maintenance staff.

A reorganized office area and security vestibule, dedicated special-needs classrooms and other modifications were made, as well, Runyon said, in addition to required code, technology and mechanical updates.

“The No. 1 goal was to increase academic classroom and small-group instruction space,” Runyon said.

“The design continues to be a refinement of the current elementary school layout, which has a major impact on managing the construction costs. With the fortunate approval of the voters for the recent levy, the building will be opened on schedule,” King said.

The district plans to begin construction on its 17th elementary school in 2021, with its opening expected in time for the 2023-24 school year. Construction of the district’s sixth middle school is expected to begin in June 2021.

Heritage Elementary School, which opened in 2011, is Olentangy’s newest elementary school.

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