Last Friday morning, members of the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area Chamber of Commerce hosted their August Membership Breakfast & Golf Outing, sponsored by Firestone, Brehm, Wolf, Whitney & Young LLP, Forman Realtors, and Sunbury Chiropractic Center.
As part of the pre-golf breakfast COC members highlighted a Back to School in the Sunbury/Big Walnut Area session, with guest speaker Angie Pollock.
Pollock, who is in her second year serving as the Big Walnut Local School District superintendent, said the school district is successful because of a supportive community.
“We’re growing very quickly,” Pollock said. “We already have 310 students entering the fifth grade. When I came here a few short years ago a bubble class was 240 students. Now we’re getting classes in the 290’s and more are coming in every day.”
Pollock said with rapid residential growth and increasing student populations on the school district’s doorstep, it’s important to focus on maintaining the traditional values and culture of the Big Walnut community.
Pollock showed a video of year two of the district’s 2020 vision – creating classrooms and learning environments that simulate the world that 21st century students will live and work in.
Pollock said the school district’s 2020 vision has three goals: personalize instruction, engage students, and use data to ensure that student’s minds are growing.
“We want to make certain we’re preparing our students for the world they’re heading into,” Pollock said. “In today’s world there’s no need to memorize. The world needs students who can think, ask the right questions, solve problems.”
Pollock also noted the school district’s $133.9 million, 8.3-mil Bond Issue that will be on the November 8 ballot.
Members of the district’s facilities committee used the district’s 2015 enrollment study, with low, most likely, and high-end student population growth projections over the next decade to determine facilities needs.
Committee members determined that by 2019 all seven of the school district’s buildings would be at capacity at the low to moderate projection range; that by 2026 the district will be serving at least an additional 2,000 students.
The committee’s final recommendation for meeting student population growth was to build a new 1,850-student high school on a new site that’s centrally located where traffic would work, move middle school students to the high school, move intermediate students to the middle school, and turn the intermediate school into an elementary school and consolidate in-town preschool at that facility. The recommendation also includes the construction of one new elementary building.
“Our student population is at 3,652 right now,” Pollock said. “Our in-town elementary buildings are full; we still have some wiggle room at Souders. An elementary building takes two years to build; a high school that would serve 1,800 students takes four years.
“We understand that 8.3 mils is not a drop in the bucket,” Pollock added. “That would put us between 47 and 48 mils. Delaware, Olentangy, and Westerville are in the 52- to 59-mil range, making us still quite a bit lower than surrounding school districts.”
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.
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