This summer, Big Walnut Local Schools is addressing two major concerns — enrollment and security.
The Board of Education recently approved a contract to purchase 97 acres behind Kintner Parkway in Sunbury for the new high school and elementary school.
“By locating the schools on one site, we will save money with site development,” said Superintendent Angie Pollock on the district’s website. “We will be discussing some early design ideas and asking for feedback” from the public.
Douglas Swartz, director of facilities for the district, said groundbreaking for the new elementary is expected in spring 2019, with a completion date of August 2020. Once the elementary is completed, work will begin on the high school, with a possible completion date of spring 2022.
“With design now underway for both projects and a site recently identified, the district is working with our construction manager (Gilbane) and architect team (led by VSWC) to further refine this date,” Swartz said in an email.
“Once the new elementary and high school open, the following reassignment of several district schools — by grade assignment, will take place: The existing high school becomes the district middle school, grades 7-8; the existing middle school becomes the district intermediate school, grades 5-6; and the existing intermediate school becomes a Pre-K program in one half of the building and an elementary school building in the other half (grades K-4),” Swartz continued. “The grade configurations as noted align with the district’s current assignments by building type (i.e., no change).”
To improve security in the district, the entrances of five school buildings will have an upgraded vestibule (lobby), and visitors will have to be buzzed in to enter. In the case of Harrison Street Elementary, the main entrance will change. In other buildings, rooms will be altered — for example the principal’s office at Big Walnut Elementary is “being repurposed into the school conference room.”
In November 2017, voters in the district approved bond funds that allocated $2 million in security improvements.
”General Rosecrans Elementary and the middle school are also having less intrusive/minor system type upgrades completed at this time so as to align their operational protocols with the new district standard,” Swartz said. “The objective of these projects is to ensure a consistent and standardized level of both operational and physical security protocols in all of our schools in alignment with best practice. The projects are currently on-track for completion in time for the new school year this August 2018.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.