Site work underway for South-Western OFCC project

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

The dirt is moving for the second phase of South-Western City Schools’ Ohio Facilities Construction Commission project.

Preparation work is underway at the four new middle school building sites that will be part of the project, Superintendent Bill Wise said.

South-Western City Schools administrative building

“The plan is the building pads should be done in mid to late November,” he said.

The construction of new buildings at Brookpark, Finland, Norton and Pleasant View middle schools and renovations at Jackson Middle School are expected to start at the beginning of next year, Wise said.

The $193 million construction project includes renovations at East Franklin Elementary School.

The four new buildings will replace the current school buildings.

Voters approved a 38-year, $93.4 million bond issue in November 2018 to pay the district’s share of the second phase of the project.

The OFCC, the state agency that assists school districts with construction projects, will provide about $60 million, or about half of the project’s core costs.

Asphalt and roofing repairs throughout the district also were part of the project, but no OFCC funds are being used for that work.

The new Finland and Norton middle schools will be built at their current sites, and Brookpark and Pleasant View will be at new locations.

Finland, Norton and Pleasant View’s current buildings will be demolished after students move into their new schools.

The new Pleasant View building will be adjacent to Bolton Crossing Elementary School on Holt Road, about 4.5 miles northeast of Pleasant View’s current site at 7255 Knopp Road.

The new Brookpark building will be constructed on 18.4 acres within or adjacent to the Beulah Park development area.

The district and Grove City approved an agreement in September 2019 for the city to purchase the land located south of the Columbus Street extension, north of Grove City Road and east of Demorest Road for the school site.

The city will purchase the Brookpark site at 2803 Southwest Blvd. and use the building and land for recreational programming.

The district plans to rename the new Brookpark school because the existing Brookpark building will not be demolished, Wise said.

The process will begin in fall 2021, when Brookpark staff and community members will be asked to submit suggestions for potential names, he said. A list of names will be brought to the school board, which will make a final decision.

The district will reach out next fall to the Pleasant View community to see if there is any desire to choose a different name for the new school, Wise said.

Mike Dingeldein, the architectural-design lead for the construction project, provided an update at the Sept. 28 school board meeting.

The work at East Franklin is nearly completed, Dingeldein said.

“The building has turned into a really wonderful like-new elementary school” with features and elements added to bring East Franklin in line with the new elementary schools that were built as part of the first phase of South-Western’s OFCC projects, he said.

The renovations at Jackson also will upgrade the building to match the features of the four new middle school facilities, Dingeldein said.

Jackson’s renovations will include an expansion to provide additional classrooms and physical-education space to bring Jackson up to an 800-student capacity like the new middle school buildings, he said.

The general design elements of the new buildings have not changed much since the schematic designs were completed in February and after virtual meetings were held in April with middle teachers, staff and parents to gather their feedback, Dingeldein said.

The second floor of each building will include a media center and art rooms, he said.

Each new school will have a larger classroom on the second floor that's able to accommodate up to 100 students, Wise said.

Students from several classes could gather for activities or guest speakers in the larger rooms, he said.

Eight small-group rooms will be located throughout each school, allowing students to work together on projects outside their regular classroom, he said.

Cafeterias in the new middle schools will include raised platforms that could provide additional seating for presentations and performances, Dingeldein said.

The cafeterias, along with main and auxiliary gyms, will give each new middle school three large-group spaces that can be used simultaneously for activities, he said. The large-group spaces offer more flexibility than a traditional auditorium.

Each space will be soundproofed from each other allowing more events to be held earlier in the evening so they don’t last late into the night, Dingeldein said.

The acoustics in the gyms will allow them to be used for music events and other events and not just athletics, he said.

The new school buildings are expected to be completed and open for students in the fall of 2022.

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