Nov. Bond to Fund New Junior High
In November, the Pickerington Local School District will ask voters to approve a bond issue to construct a new junior high, dozens of high school classrooms, a football stadium and more.
The total cost to build all the facilities is estimated to be $91.5 million.
The district estimates that the millage required to pay the debt service on the levy will be between 2.50 mills and 3.25 mills. Three mills would cost the owner of a $300,000 home an additional $315 in annual taxes, said District Treasurer Ryan Jenkins.
“The millage is the rate of the tax levy that the County Auditor will assess to collect the needed funds from district residents to pay the debt service on the bonds—That is, to pay the principal and interest payments to the investors who purchased the bonds. The bond proceeds are what the district uses to fund its construction projects,” Jenkins said. “A mill equates to $1.00 of taxation for every $1,000 of assessed valuation for a property.”
With an enrollment of nearly 11,000 students, crowding is already an issue at most of the schools. Accounting for the hundreds of new houses currently in development around Violet Township, the district projects enrollment to increase to 12,600 students by 2028.
Superintendent Chris Briggs said that people move to the Pickerington area because the schools have a lot to offer.
“I’d put our kids up against anyone in the state and the nation,” Briggs said.
If the bond issue passes, a new junior high will be built to the southeast of Central High School. Utilities have already been run to the property.
The Ridgeview building would house a middle school, an elementary and the Gateway program for gifted students.
Currently, three middle schools funnel into two junior highs which means that some elementary Tigers attend a Panther middle school then return to a Tiger junior high. With Ridgeview becoming a fourth middle school, students will no longer be shuffled back and forth across the district.
“With some minor redistricting, the attendance patterns for most neighborhoods will be known all the way from elementary to high school,” Jenkins said.
The district would also relocate its Welcome Center from Ridgeview to the Heritage building adjacent to the other district offices. Heritage would no longer include an elementary, but it would house all the district’s preschoolers.
The cafeteria at Central would be extended into the courtyard to accommodate an additional 200 seats. Twenty-four new classrooms would be added to the southeast side of the building for a total of 95.
At North High School, 18 classrooms would be added onto the northwest side of the building so that it will also have 95 classrooms.
Safety would be upgraded at both high schools. Vestibules added to the entrances of each building would lead all visitors to an office to sign-in before they could access the halls. State-mandated evacuation areas added with the new classrooms would be able to withstand 250 mile per hour winds.
Groundwork has already begun on a new stadium for Central as well as other athletic fields at both high school/junior high campuses.
“The initial phases of these projects are being paid for using existing capital dollars, and are not included in the bond issue,” Jenkins said.
Replacing Tiger Stadium has been a district concern for many years. Every few years the field is damaged when Sycamore Creek floods.
Additionally, because Tiger Stadium only has a six-lane track instead of an eight-lane track, Central is unable to host track meets other than ‘dual’ meets with one other school. The school cannot host invitationals with several teams, which is common in high school track.
Crews are leveling the ground for the new stadium south of Opportunity Way on Pickerington Road. The field, including an eight-lane track, lights and some bleachers, will be ready as an auxiliary facility by next school year. If the bond issue passes, this field would continue to be developed into a full-sized stadium for Central and the current Tiger Stadium would become the auxiliary facility.
North would receive lights for its existing auxiliary stadium, and the school would receive a softball complex like the one Central already has so that both schools would have similar facilities.
“While the district is not forecasting the need for a new operating levy immediately on the heels of the bond issue, the current five-year forecast does suggest that an operating levy may be required by mid-2022,” Jenkins said. “Growing enrollment will also impact the district’s resources.”
A video presentation created by the district to explain the bond issue can be found on YouTube.
Audrina Brinsley poses beside her painting at the red carpet opening of the Pickerington Local Schools’ Spring art exhibit. Art teacher Diann Fish chose Audrina’s work for a display showcasing the talented students of Harmon Middle School.
Audrina said that art is her favorite class “because I like to be creative”.
When asked if she also creates art outside of school, her dad, Morgan, interjected -“only when she’s awake!”
In addition to art from Harmon, the exhibit features the work of students from Lakeview Junior High, Toll Gate Middle and Pickerington High School North. The display, which runs throughout the Spring, is located along the second-floor hallway of the PLSD District Offices located at 90 N. East Street.For more photographs of Pickerington students attending the exhibit opening, visit PLSD on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.