By Dedra Cordle
The South-Western City Schools District will utilize federal dollars to make modest upgrades to the interior design at two of its elementary school buildings.
In early January, the board of education granted authorization at its regular meeting for the district to advertise for bids for a contract to replace the partition walls at Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods Elementary School. The scope of the project will include the replacement of the partition walls and doors in the buildings with masonry walls and solid doors to improve air quality in the classrooms.
According to district officials, the project to reconfigure space at the two elementary school buildings is budgeted at $3 million. Should the district receive and award a bid for the project soon, the upgrades will likely take place during the summer months when students and staff are not in the building.
The reconfiguring of space at these two elementary school buildings was a part of the district’s initial infrastructure plan to determine how the third allocation of federal dollars would be spent. Treasurer Hugh Garside said the district received an allocation of $61.5 million through the third phase of the American Rescue Plan and The Elementary and Secondary School Elementary Relief Fund (ARP-ESSER).
Under the federal guidelines to access these dollars, 20 percent of those funds had to be put aside to implement learning loss objectives caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the district has spent nearly $12.3 million to combat learning loss by hiring additional counselors, intervention specialists, social workers and student support liaisons; offering online tutoring services; building a more robust summer school program; providing Chromebooks to all students; and partnering with organizations such as the YMCA of Central Ohio to provide social and emotional needs for students.
The ESSER III dollars have also been utilized to make infrastructure upgrades within the district. In addition to the planned reconfiguring of space at Buckeye Woods and Darby Woods, other projects include HVAC renovations at the intermediate schools, Central Crossing High School, and the South-Western Career Academy; an addition to classrooms at Hayes Intermediate; sound and lighting upgrades at the high school auditoriums, additional classroom space at SWCA, and various chiller replacements.
Evan Debo, the district’s executive director of communications, said most of these projects are currently underway.
“The Career Academy’s new event center expansion is on pace to be completed in 2024,” he wrote in an email. “As for the HVAC work, parts of Hayes Intermediate’s HVAC renovation is also underway. The remaining phases of these projects will take place once students are out of school over the summer months. While we are optimistic that the HVAC work might be completed over the summer, continued supply chain issues may affect that anticipatory completion date.”
Debo said the district currently has $8.51 million remaining to be encumbered. He added that approximately half of this is to be used for the remaining construction projects not yet contracted while the remaining funds will be used to address additional learning loss objectives.