Aug 25, 2022

Pickerington Schools Makes Building Offer Seeking to Reduce Overcrowding Concerns

Yarmouth Rd. property

The Pickerington Schools Board of Education approved a Purchase & Sale Agreement (PSA) at its August 8, 2022 regular meeting. The PSA is a contractual offer for the district to purchase the property located at 13430 Yarmouth Rd. NW in Pickerington.

The property is currently owned by West Fairfield OH, LLC, and was most recently leased to the Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health (OCOSH). OCOSH was a division of the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. The district offered $3 million for the purchase of the property.

Ryan Jenkins, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer for the district said, “The PSA is just like when a private individual writes a contract to purchase a home. The PSA is the legal offer to buy the property.” 

Jenkins also noted that the PSA creates a 90-day window to conduct due diligence, which involves items like title searches, environmental testing, and other inspections to ensure the property meets the intended needs and is safe for district use. He projects the district will close on the facility sometime in mid-November. “That is assuming the due diligence doesn’t turn up any ‘deal-breakers,’ which we are not anticipating,” Jenkins said.

Purchasing the property allows the district to accelerate its facility plan as a part of its Plan for Progress,” said Dr. Chris Briggs, Superintendent. “We will be able to renovate the building to hold preschool classes, and this will dramatically increase the space available in elementary schools. There are currently about 15 classrooms across 4 elementary schools that are used for preschool instruction.”

Briggs also mentioned that the facility may be used for other functions like professional development meetings for the Academic Services Department or other adult learning and development.

As part of its Plan for Progress, the district will ask voters to approve an $89.930 million bond issue at the November 8, 2022 general election to:

  • Build a new junior high school that can house up to 1,300 students.
  • Renovate all of Ridgeview Junior High to convert it to a building holding separate Kindergarten through fourth grade elementary students and fifth and sixth grade middle school students, which will be made possible with the purchase of the Yarmouth property. This will create an eighth elementary school that will house about 450 students, and a fourth middle school that will house about 450 students.
  • Add 24 additional classrooms at Pickerington Central High School housing up to 650 students, upgrade the cafeteria expanding capacity by 200 additional students, and install secure entryways.
  • Add 18 additional classrooms to Pickerington High School North housing up to 470 additional students, and install secure entryways.
  • Renovate and upgrade multiple elementary schools to accommodate growth, making room for up to 375 additional students.

Vanessa Niekamp, Board President, said, “We project the purchase of the building on Yarmouth Rd. may allow us to create up to 20 additional classrooms for preschool students who are currently enrolled at Pickerington, Sycamore Creek, Tussing and Violet Elementaries. This is much needed space at these elementary schools. But perhaps more importantly, we will now not have to renovate Heritage Elementary into a preschool learning center, which will allow us to renovate Ridgeview Junior High into an eighth elementary school and a fourth middle school.”

Jenkins also pointed out that the Yarmouth building is about 40,500 square feet, meaning that the cost per square foot for the facility is about $81/sq. ft., and that current construction prices are much higher than that.

“We’ve seen new construction prices for school buildings at about $400/sq. ft., and the cost to renovate is around $300/sq. ft., so, at $81/sq. ft., we think we are trying to stretch our resources as efficiently as we can,” Jenkins said.

Once purchased, there will need to be renovations and facility upgrades to the Yarmouth property to turn it into a preschool building. But, Jenkins said, “Because we can get started on these renovations hopefully as soon as the spring, it will be possible to accelerate our construction plans should the bond issue pass. We know that new builds can take around 36 to 48 months, and even renovations can take up to 36 months depending on the size of the building. Now we can get into the Yarmouth building sooner and take some pressure off of our elementaries sooner, rather than waiting for the new junior high to be built, then waiting for Ridgeview Junior High to be renovated, and only then would we be able to renovate Heritage Elementary into a preschool learning center.” 

Board Vice President Keith Kristoff said, “The purchase of this property really allows us to make some great strides towards our capital plan that we believe our students need to have adequate space in our schools. Assuming the bond issue passes, we’ll be able to create much more space, and we’ll be able to create that additional space much sooner.”

For more information about the bond issue, visit the school’s bond webpage.