September 1, 2022
By Editor Rachel Scofield
If voters approve the Pickerington Local School District’s (PLSD) November Bond Issue, new classrooms will be added to both high schools and Central’s cafeteria will be extended into the courtyard to seat more students.
The plan would add 24 classrooms to Central, thereby expanding its capacity by 720 students (total of 2,300). Eighteen classrooms would be built onto North to increase its capacity by 540 students (total of 2,400).
“With those new capacities and our projected enrollments, we don’t see North or Central being too full through the 2029-30 school year,” District Treasurer/CFO Ryan Jenkins said. “Is it possible we grow much more rapidly than what we’ve forecasted? Of course, but we should have some cushion.
The Columbus metro area is growing. We should expect that this growth (especially with Intel being just up the road) will impact us. We believe, however, that we’ve planned as well as we can for what is coming. What I can say for certain is that we need the space we’re asking for now very much.”
The issue that is on the November ballot will be for $89.93 million. It would increase building capacity across all grade levels, not just the high schools. A new junior high would be built, and the existing facilities would be reconfigured. The end result would be two larger high schools, two junior highs, four middle schools and eight elementaries. (The new preschool building is not part of the bond issue nor are there any funds for athletic facilities.)
“This addresses our needs in grades preschool through twelfth, whereas a new high school only creates room at the high school level,” Jenkins said. “If we built a high school, that would essentially be all we could afford.”
To construct a high school facility the size of Pickerington North (313,000 square feet) at the current construction rate ($400 per square foot), it would cost anywhere from $125 million to $150 million.
“We do not believe our community would support that much new debt,” Jenkins said. “We’ve already failed a $95 million bond issue twice. We believe it is far more prudent, efficient and fiscally responsible to seek the $89.93 million bond issue that impacts all levels, not just high school.”
In a survey conducted by the district, community members felt that Pickerington was not ready for another high school. To them, the addition would mark the watershed moment where Pickerington became a large town like Dublin or Westerville.
“Many still regard Pickerington as having a smaller feel to it, and a third high school would disrupt that,” Jenkins said.
Moreover, the district does not own enough land to build another high school.
“We would need at least 120 to 150 acres,” Jenkins said. “North sits on about 158 acres. McGill is about 66 acres, and it would be rather odd, absurd even, to put a high school on that site anyway given the proximity to Central. Proceeds from the bond issue can be used for land, but we’re not ready at this time to identify a future high school site.”
The “McGill Property” is land that the district owns which is located immediately east of Central on Pickerington Road. It is the site of the proposed junior high school.