Reynoldsburgs plans for high school to be a blank slate

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The Reynoldsburg school district, which has been planning on a second high school for grades 9-12 if a March 4 bond issue passes, is shifting gears in response to the public’s concern about dividing the community.

In a letter being sent to residents, school board President Cheryl Max acknowledged those concerns.

"We believe that parents and community members know what’s best for their schools," Max wrote.

She also announced that Superintendent Steve Dackin has been directed to, upon the passage of the 4.9-mill bond issue, to involve the community in the design of the second high school.

"Once the bond issue passes, we will have a full year to plan for new buildings," Max stated. "At the high school level, we could design separate campuses for grades 9-10 and 11-12, as some have already suggested, or something entirely different. The key is that our high school will be shaped to fit the needs of our community."

The community engagement will begin within 60 days of passage of the bond issue.

The idea for a second 9-12 high school first came up in 2001, Dackin noted, and almost a decade would have passed if the building is completed on schedule in 2010.

A lot has changed since then, according to Dackin, including the election of new school board members and his hiring in January.

Everyone agrees that the current high school is overcrowded, but there is not a consensus on a solution, Dackin added, so officials want to ask the community their opinion on the right way to proceed.

"We recognize we are asking for a leap of faith here," Dackin said.

The district will be getting the word out through letters and a public meeting Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Hannah Ashton Middle School on Jackson Street.

"We have the rare and exciting opportunity to design our high school program from the ground up and then design our facilities to complement it," Max wrote in her letter.

Approval from residents will allow the district to receive $55 million from the state to match the $56 million in local funds for the construction of a second high school, a seventh elementary school and renovations to other buildings.

The second high school is needed to relieve crowding at the current facility, which is about 1,000 students over capacity, according to Max.

After ground is broken for the new buildings, slated for property recently purchased at Refugee and Summit roads, the district will spend another year planning for the renovations at the current high school, along with Baldwin Road Junior High, and French Run, Herbert Mills, Rose Hill and Taylor Road elementary schools.

A bond issue for these projects failed to pass in 2006, due in part to the concerns over a divided Reynoldsburg and because the district had not been fully assured of state assistance.

District officials have emphasized that money from the Ohio School Facilities Commission is guaranteed following the bond issue’s passage.

Information about the bond issue is available at www.statefundsfor Rschools.com.

Dackin keeps open office hours Mondays from 7-8 p.m.

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