Beginning in May, students at Pickerington Central and Ridgeview Junior High will move into portable classrooms while their schools are renovated.
The school district received $50 million from the Ohio Facilities Commission (OSFC) to upgrade Central, Ridgeview and three elementary schools – Fairfield, Pickerington and Violet.
Among the upgrades to Central will be new ceilings, a band room addition, a new gym floor, more theater lights, improved utilities and new furniture, said Scott Deisler of the architecture firm SHP Leading Design.
For security, many of the outside doors will open with a keycard and an alarm will sound if a door is propped, Deisler said.
Contractors will install video cameras at both schools and with the information recorded on DVDs, Deisler said.
Bob Sewell, of the construction company Gilbane Building Company, did not give the exact number of cameras to be installed, but did say the total was more than 100.
The district began upgrading security at Central last February after a string of bomb threats within a two-week period.
Last spring, Central installed nine security cameras and hires substitute teachers to patrol the halls, Principal Scott Reeves said.
At Ridgeview, the renovations will be on a larger scale.
"Everything not structural will be coming out," Deisler said.
The project will involve asbestos remediation, separating parking areas for busses and parents, a new heating and air conditioning unit, refinishing the gym floor, improving utilities, new kitchen equipment and new furniture, Deisler said.
Contractors will add a water line to feed a new fire hydrant behind the building and a new indoor sprinkler system, Diesler said.
A new vestibule at the front door will force visitors into the office to sign in, Diesler said.
The EPA requires that the district include a planted area near the new parking lots to filter rain runoff before it flows into local streams, Diesler said.
The contractors will lay a long strip of stone tile, and then will cover the tile with a garden of potted plants, Diesler said.
School Board President Lee Gray said he was concerned that the area would fill with weeds because the EPA forbids the district from mowing it.
Gray said that with all the money invested in improving the school, the entrance should look manicured.
"Having a weed patch in a big area right there defeats the purpose," Gray said.
The contractors will recycle 75 percent of the materials removed from both buildings, Sewell said.
"We will shoot for 90 percent, but we are confident (to achieve) 75 percent," Sewell said.
On site, workers will sort materials and the district will repurpose items such as projectors and security cameras, Deisler said.
The first phase at the high school will remodel the classrooms numbering in the 100s, Deisler said.
The first phase for the junior high will close the southeastern corner of the building, Deisler said.
Students will move into portable classrooms placed in the parking lots, Deisler said.
Construction at both schools will conclude during the summer of 2011 at which point the contractors will begin work on the three elementary schools, Sewell said.
The funding for the renovations came from an OSFC program that grants funds to school districts based on financial need.
Pickerington qualified for a 50-50 split, so when voters approved a $59.9-million bond issue to build three new schools – Sycamore Creek Elementary, Toll Gate Elementary and Toll Gate Middle, the state owed the district $50 million.
The state would not match the entire amount because the cost included land acquisition and athletic fields. The OSFC does not reimburse those types of expenses, PLSD facilities manager Vince Utterback said.
Additionally, the state would not provide any money until voters agreed to extend an existing 0.5-mill maintenance levy by 12 years.
In May of 2009, 75 percent of voters approved the levy extension.
School board member Cathy Olshefski said that she is amazed the district can partake in such large-scale projects during a down economy.
"It is all because of the community support to the schools," Olshefiski said. "This is manna from heaven."
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