Worthington Schools Roundup: Perry/Phoenix renovation completion expected by August

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Edvin Quinderos with OK Interiors cuts metal to size April 21 at Perry/Phoenix Middle School, 2341 Snouffer Road in Worthington, as part of Worthington Schools’ three-phase capital-improvement plan.

Perry Middle School, which was closed in 2010 in a cost-saving move and converted to accommodate the Phoenix Middle School program, is undergoing renovations that are expected to be completed by August.

The school, which has been repurposed as Phoenix Middle School, is expected to open in August for the 2021-22 school year, according to Jeff Eble, Worthington Schools' director of business services.

“Our goal is to be finished and out by Aug. 1,” Eble said. “We might have a little bit of site work outside we have to finish.” 

Eble said Perry is undergoing a 55,000- to 60,000-square-foot addition, as well as additional renovation to existing parts of the building. Renovation to the adjacent Phoenix Middle School is largely completed, he said. 

The future commons area/cafeteria is shown April 21 at Perry/Phoenix Middle School.

The renovation to Perry, which, when completed, could accommodate up to 600 students, will feature approximately 25 new classrooms and other facilities, with the centerpiece being a large commons/cafeteria space shared by Perry and Phoenix students, Eble said.

“It certainly is an upgrade to old buildings,” Eble said. “Worthington has taken good care of their buildings, so structurally, they’re good, and we’ve reused what we could use structurally. But when you get a building that gets to be 30-40-plus years old, systems start to go.

“This is really reusing the shell of this building, adding to it to enlarge, and that’s true at all four buildings – adding to them to enlarge them and adding new systems," he said.

Perry’s renovations are part of a series of renovations to Worthington Schools’ middle schools as the district anticipates moving its sixth-grade students from the elementary schools to the middle schools in the fall to accommodate an enrollment surge. 

Eventually, Perry will house students in grades 6-8, with Phoenix serving as an alternative middle school for grades 7 and 8.

A completed and in-use classroom is shown April 21 as construction continues at Perry/Phoenix Middle School.

Superintendent Trent Bowers told ThisWeek Worthington News in March that renovations of the other buildings are scheduled to be completed in July, as well

According to Jeff Maddox, the districts human-resources director, core teacher positions at the new Perry Middle School were filled internally. Eight “related arts” positions – an area that includes teachers in technology, art, languages and physical education, for example – have been filled in anticipation of Perry’s opening. 

According to Neil Gupta, Worthington Schools’ director of secondary education, the school’s total enrollment will be about 540 students when the sixth-grade integration occurs. 

He said Kilbourne Middle School would house about 400 students, with about 625 at Worthingway and about 550 at McCord. 

Bowers' contract extended 

The Worthington Schools board reauthorized a new contract with Bowers during its April 12 meeting, extending his term by two years. 

The board terminated Bowers’ previous contract, which was set to run through July 31, 2024, and approved a new contract to run from Aug. 1, 2021, to July 31, 2026. 

“In these challenging times, we just felt that stability is so important to the district,” board member Jennifer Best said. “And we wanted to take the chance to let him know we want him to stay in Worthington, and we thought a contract extension was a good way to do that.” 

Best said Bowers’ salary structure has not changed with the new contract. She said he currently makes $172,600, with a 3% raise on an annual basis, as long as he has a satisfactory evaluation.  

“He has done an excellent job,” Best said. “It has been challenging; there have been bumps along the way; every decision has not been perfect," she said. "But overall with all of the challenges, he has done an excellent job. Really this is not about the money; it’s just about the time.”

Thomas, Kilbourne play '50th-year lacrosse game 

The Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne boys lacrosse teams played each other April 23 as part of a 50th-year celebration of lacrosse in Worthington. 

The Worthington community has a history of scholastic lacrosse in the area, dating back to 1972, when Thomas Worthington High School launched the first public high school lacrosse team in Ohio, according to the Thomas boys lacrosse team's website

Since then, the Cardinals have produced 18 All-Americans, six Midwest champions and four state championships. 

The game was played at Thomas Worthington, as the Cardinals played host to the Wolves. Kilbourne won 9-8.

Check out a photo gallery from the event.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve