Reynoldsburg has 22nd junior high, plans 2nd high school

 Messenger photos by John Matuszak
Members of the Reynoldsburg High School flag corps and marching band perform at the Aug. 8 dedication of Waggoner Road Junior High School, the district’s second building for seventh and eighth-graders. The project will ease crowding for students. The district is also making plans for a second high school.
Cutting the ribbon at Waggoner Road Junior High School are, from left, Mike Shoemaker, executive director of the Ohio School Facilities Commission; and school board members Andrew Swope, Cheryl Max, Mary Hudson, Mary Jane Underwood and James Slonaker. Superintendent Richard Ross is in the back at left.

Reynoldsburg junior high students will have a lot more elbow room when they return to classes this fall, at both the Baldwin Road building and the new junior high at 360 S. Waggoner Road dedicated Aug. 8.

About 600 seventh and eighth-grade students are enrolled at the 108,000 square-foot Waggoner Road Junior High School, according to Ron Strussion, the district’s building manager. The building has a capacity for 750.

The students had previously been part of the 1,100 student population at the crowded, 33-year-old Baldwin Road building.

"You’re children will have room to move," promised Waggoner Road Assistant Principal Leslie Kelly to an overflow audience at the open house.

Principal Tyrone Olverson also pledged excellence in education along with the added space.

The $16 million project was financed through a bond issue approved by voters in 2004, that also allowed for the purchase of land for a second high school and a seventh elementary school.

The Ohio School Facilities Commission contributed 43 percent of the funding for the Waggoner Road school after  voters approved the local dollars.

The commission has already approved matching funds for the construction of the second high school and seventh elementary school, if voters approve a bond issue that they turned down last year. Plans also include renovations at the current high school, Baldwin Road Junior High and elementary buildings.

"The $60 million is in the bank, and we look forward to picking up the check when we pass the next bond issue," Superintendent Richard Ross said.

Mike Shoemaker, executive director of the facilities commission, explained that the $60 million is part of Gov. Ted Strickland’s commitment to provide $4 billion for school construction statewide over the next three years.

He acknowledged that the added tax burden is a "sacrifice" for Reynoldsburg homeowners, but one they willingly accepted for the education of their children.

"You won’t get a better buy," he told the audience.

Ross is looking toward a ballot issue in March. The state Controlling Board will also have to okay the project in October.

The district is moving ahead with plans to buy a 68-acre parcel east of Summit Road and south of Refugee Road in Etna Township for the high school and elementary building. Housing growth has been strongest in the eastern portion of the district.

In the meantime, educators and parents had an opportunity to admire the new junior high school, adjacent to a middle school that opened two years ago.

The entrance features high pillars and a sweeping, glassed-in front. Students in the second-story media center will have a panoramic view of the rolling landscape. Deer have been spotted along the wooded areas.

The building has been constructed with wider hallways and larger lockers than were the standard 30 years ago, Strussion said. Sound-absorbing blocks and trusses have been installed in the cafeteria and gym to cut down on noise.

The music rooms, with 18-foot ceilings,  are located in one wing, to minimize disruptions for other classes, and the wing has its own entrance for buses to pick up and drop off band members.

All of the space is accompanied by pleasing pastels of the district’s colors, purple and yellow.

The construction was necessitated by the overcrowding, and is not meant to divide the community, school board President Cheryl Max said. "We are still one community."

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