Olentangy Schools' 16th elementary on target to open next school year

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek
Construction continues Oct. 21 on Olentangy Schools' 16th elementary school, which is being built on a 14-acre site along Peachblow Road in Lewis Center.

Olentangy Schools’ 16th elementary school is shaping up and on track to open for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

Despite general uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, construction began in June and is proceeding on schedule, according to Jeff Gordon, the district’s director of business management and facilities.

“When we started (in late June), we had 13 months. That’s a short timeline,” Gordon said.

He credited in part the district’s experience working with architect Fanning Howey of Dublin and construction manager Robertson Construction Services of Heath, a combination that has worked together on four construction projects in the district.

“We use the same basic design for all of our most recent elementary schools. It’s an efficient model,” Gordon said. “One of the benefits of using a prototype design is that you can make adjustments. Our elementary principals and curriculum department are working with the architect to just tweak what is already a good plan.”

Gordon said the building should be fully ready for interior work to begin by mid-November.

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

Compared to others, the new building will have about 10,000 additional square feet, Gordon said.

The elementaries normally have 29 designated classroom spaces, not included special classes, but the new building will have 35 designated classroom, said district spokeswoman Amanda Beeman.

The additional space will benefit not only standard grade-level classes but also preschool and specialized learning centers, Gordon said.

The building also will feature a reorganized office area and security vestibule, as well as other minor modifications.

More:Olentangy Schools redistricting plan starts as 16th elementary's construction begins

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

The unnamed school, the first new elementary in the district since Heritage Elementary School opened in 2011, will be constructed on 14 acres 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.

“Construction on the first (0.4-mile, three-lane) phase of the North Road extension from Peachblow Road south across the school site is scheduled to start in the spring of 2021,” Delaware County engineer Chris Bauserman said. “Peachblow Road will then close in June 2021 for about 45 days to build a roundabout at the new intersection. Overall completion is scheduled for August 2021, in time for the start of the school year.

“The second phase, extending south from the school site to Shanahan Road, is planned for 2022-23 construction,” Bauserman said.

Because the school is to be on a road not yet built, Gordon said, a larger-than-usual construction-access driveway had to be built for the site, but that has not caused any additional problems.

The district also has begun the process of redrawing attendance boundaries in anticipation of the opening of the new school.

Chief communications officer Krista Davis said she hopes to present the first scenarios for redistricting to the board in January but said the redistricting committee likely will continue to work through March.

She said the school’s timeline includes hiring school leadership by the end of 2020 and announcing a name and mascot in early 2021.

During a June board meeting, Superintendent Mark 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.

The new school is the first to be built with funding approved by voters in April.

The three-part ballot issue included a $134.7 million bond issue to fund the construction of a new middle school and two elementary schools.

The district plans to begin construction on a 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.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews