Pickerington Schools officials say May issue would fund upgrades, more classrooms

Nate Ellis
ThisWeek group

If the Pickerington Schools district is successful in a second attempt to pass a 2.9-mill bond issue May 4, it would result in the construction of a new junior high school, the addition of more than 40 classrooms at the two high schools and other upgrades throughout the district. 

After voters shot down a 2.9-mill bond issue last November by a count of 15,434 to 13,602, Pickerington Schools officials said something still needed to be done to address a projected enrollment increase of 1,800 students by 2028-29. 

Ryan Jenkins, Pickerington Schools treasurer.

The district put the issue back on the ballot this spring, seeking the same 2.9-mill bond package that would provide $95 million that the district would pay down in 38 years or less. It would cost homeowners $101.50 per $100,000 of home value – or $8.46 a month, per $100,000 home value – according to Ryan Jenkins, district treasurer. 

In return, the district would build a new junior high school that could serve up to 1,100 students. The school would be built on the former McGill property, a 66-acre tract the district owns on Lockville Road, south of Opportunity Way. 

The bond also would enable the district to add 24 classrooms to Pickerington High School Central and 18 at Pickerington High School North. 

“It would renovate Ridgeview STEM Junior High School into a K-4 and 5-6 school building,” Jenkins said. “It would renovate Heritage Elementary into a pre-(kindergarten) learning center and would also provide resources for security upgrades across the district throughout the buildings.” 

PHS Central Principal Stacy Tennenbaum said in addition to expanded classroom space, the bond would provide funding for improvements to the school’s cafeteria and main entrance. 

“An expansion of the cafeteria into the courtyard will allow for 200 more seats and a redesign of the main entrance that will enhance safety and security for students and staff,” she said. 

At PHS North, plans are in place to redesign the main entrance to improve security. 

Another part of the district’s plan would be to create a welcome center at Heritage Elementary. 

“Heritage Elementary will house all of our preschools across the district, as well as our welcome center,” Heritage Principal Chad Rice said. “This will help create much-needed space for our growing district.” 

District officials have said housing all preschools at Heritage would free up classroom space at Sycamore Creek Elementary, Tussing Elementary and Violet Elementary. 

Athletics facilities also would be upgraded. 

The district is investing $3.5 million to build an auxiliary stadium on the McGill property, adjacent to PHS Central along Lockville Road. 

The project includes the construction of an eight-lane track, a pole-vault pit, visitors bleachers, a parking lot and lighting at the stadium. 

The bond also would fund bleachers on the home side of the stadium and the installation of a synthetic-turf field. The stadium then would become Central’s primary outdoor competition facility. 

Likewise at PHS North, the bond would fund construction of practice fields adjacent to the high school and Lakeview Junior High School and the installation of synthetic turf at the stadium. Lighting would be installed at North’s softball complex. 

“We know that by passing the bond issue in May, we can touch kindergarten through 12th grade academically and both for co-curricular and extracurricular activities,” Superintendent Chris Briggs said. “The bond issue will provide our district with additional academic space, a welcome center, renovations to our current school buildings and also additions to our high schools, as well as adding additional extracurricular facilities to both high schools.”    

If the bond fails, Briggs said, the district won’t be able to fund improvements to athletics facilities and will face significant classroom space constraints. 

“Unfortunately, we are running out of space academically for our students and the stop-gap is temporary academic space,” he said. “Delaying the issue in May would cause us to be behind two to three years in building facilities.” 

nellis@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekNate