Welcome to What's New at DCS

  • Your go-to source for the latest updates, insights, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the dynamic world that is Dublin City Schools (DCS).

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    Our primary aim with "What's New at DCS" is to foster a strong connection between the district and our vibrant community. During the 2023 levy campaign, we received valuable feedback from our taxpayers and community members. The ask? That DCS increase transparency around expenditures, operations, capital improvements, enrollment projections, curriculum changes, and more. "What's New at DCS" is our proactive response to these calls for a more informed and engaged community. We believe that an informed community is an empowered community, and through this blog, we strive to keep you well-informed about the ins-and-outs of operating our large, suburban school district. Whether you are a parent, a student, an educator, or a community member, "What's New at DCS" is designed to be your one-stop destination for comprehensive district updates.

    One of the key features of our blog will be regular posts authored by district leadership, including our Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, and Executive Directors. Each department plays a crucial role in the seamless functioning of the district. From improvements to facilities to advancements in technology, "What's New at DCS" will keep you in the loop about the many developments and innovative initiatives that contribute to the success of DCS students. 

    In addition to department updates, we recognize the importance of keeping our community informed about local, state and federal legislative changes and their impact on our schools. The education landscape is ever-evolving, and understanding the implications of legislative decisions on our district is essential.

    As we embark on this journey together, we encourage you to check in every Wednesday to explore the topic of the week. Your active engagement is crucial, and we want you to share your thoughts, questions, and suggestions after reading our posts. This blog is not just a platform for information dissemination; it's a community hub for learning, understanding, and growth.

    To ask a question, share feedback or suggest a future topic, comment on a post by clicking “Comments” or email info@dublinschools.net. Comments must be approved by the webmaster before they show publicly. If you would like a response to your comment, please include your name and email address in the comment.


  • Housing, Taxes, and Enrollment - It’s All Connected

    Posted by Dr. John Marschhausen, Superintendent on 2/21/2024

    Regional Housing Shortage Impacts Everyone

    The Dublin City School District, and central Ohio as a whole, is at an inflection point. There is a regional housing shortage. As the greater Columbus area continues to grow, all sectors and government entities must work together. Our communities are interconnected and when we work together with an aligned vision, everyone benefits. When we work in silos with myopic leadership focused on only individual needs, taxpayer dollars are wasted.

    DCS Voices Concerns with Developers and Leaders

    Dublin City Schools is eager to engage in meaningful dialogue with our municipal and business leaders as we plan for a bright future in the district and region. During the November 2023 Levy Campaign, our constituents consistently encouraged the district to have a greater voice in residential development. In recent polling, nearly 80% of our residents think it’s a bad idea to incentivize housing development in the school district.

    • The district has formed an administrative Housing Committee to meet with developers and municipal leaders to actively review potential housing developments and proposals. The Housing Committee includes members of the Senior Leadership Team with Board Members Tiffany DeSilva and Diana Rigby. The committee recently met with representatives from Epcon Communities. The district is hopeful developers will engage and share future development plans.

    • The district will send Board Members and senior administrators to an upcoming meeting convened by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC). The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is engaging community planners, local government officials, school board officials and school administrators to discuss the benefits of planning together.

    • The district seeks a collaborative relationship with the City of Columbus related to the Columbus Housing Incentive Policy - specially Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA). The budget impact of tax abatements to incentivize new housing development is significant.

    • Dublin City Schools leadership is grateful for our elite partnership with the City of Dublin. City Council and the administration are active partners with a history of working together to maximize taxpayer dollars. The district is committed to ongoing dialogue and partnership about economic and housing development within the city limits.

    Tax incentives and abatements divert significant dollars from our classrooms to developers and infrastructure projects. With the majority of property taxes dedicated to supporting the schools, each abatement or reduction in taxes potentially increases the frequency and size of future levies. With the new housing, and enrollment projections reflecting steady, we will continue to see increasing costs and building needs.

    District Leadership Plans to Advocate for School Funding to Match Growth

    As construction begins for our fifteenth elementary school and an addition to our preschool, the Master Facility Plan included in Journey 2030 demonstrates the need for additional buildings in the future. Our school community will actively engage in discussions about managing increasing high school enrollment, a potential sixth middle school, and the need for a sixteenth elementary. These facility needs are created by the new housing in the district.

    Our district’s leaders will continue to inform and educate our municipal leaders about the impact on growth on the school’s budget. We encourage our constituents to stay connected to learn about the decisions being made that impact taxpayers. We are proud to be a destination district and are eager to educate every student that enters our schools. Our message is that the funding sources must match the increasing enrollment.

      
     
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  • #25 in 2025: Facts about Elementary 15

    Posted by Mr. Jeff Stark, Chief Operating Officer on 2/14/2024

    A Glimpse of Elementary 15

    Exciting developments are underway as the district gears up for the construction of its 25th school, Elementary 15. This building promises to uphold the district's commitment to providing a conducive learning environment for its students. A virtual tour of the building renders is now available so that community members can catch a glimpse of the innovative learning spaces that will soon be available for students (see video below).

    Elementary 15 draws inspiration from the successful Hopewell Elementary, which opened its doors in 2020. The new school will span 44,235 net square feet, accommodating up to 700 students. With 32 classrooms, a cafeteria, library, and a high-school-sized gymnasium, Elementary 15 is poised to become a hub for learning and recreation.

    The inclusion of a larger gymnasium is noteworthy as it not only caters to the school's athletic needs but also provides additional practice and game space for local student-athletes and athletic organizations. This multi-functional space is a strategic move, allowing the district to generate revenue through facility rentals.

     

    Location Near Jerome High School

    Elementary 15 will be located on existing land adjacent to Jerome High School's track and stadium. The entrance, situated off Cacchio Lane, ensures easy accessibility. The district's Operations team is collaborating with the City of Dublin to assess and mitigate potential traffic impacts. Among the considerations is the possibility of adding a traffic light in the vicinity.

    The retention pond at the site will be relocated, allowing the district to fully utilize the space. Along the eastern edge of the parcel a tree line and fence will be installed to provide a privacy barrier to adjacent neighborhoods. Residents will still have access to the existing walking path.
     
    Aerial view of land

     

    Plan for Elementary 15


    Groundbreaking Planning

    The groundbreaking ceremony for Elementary 15 is scheduled for April 25 at 5:00 p.m. Following the groundbreaking, guests are invited to Jerome High School for a special presentation by students from Grizzell Middle School. These students, under the guidance of Mr. Shawn Kaeser, have been researching potential names for Elementary 15. Much like a science fair, Board of Education members and guests will have an opportunity to walk around the Commons and talk to students about their proposed names and findings. The selected name will then be formalized by the Board of Education during their May 13 meeting.

    Redistricting to Begin

    With the addition of Elementary 15 comes the inevitable redistricting process. The district is working with Cropper GIS, a professional planning firm, to conduct the redistricting process. The district has developed an internal planning team that will begin regular meetings with Cropper GIS in May. Currently, the district anticipates that homes in the attendance zones of Abraham Depp Elementary, Deer Run Elementary, Eli Pinney Elementary, and Glacier Ridge Elementary may be affected by redistricting in order to shift students to Elementary 15. Middle schools are also being evaluated for redistricting.

    To keep parents and the community informed, a Redistricting Information Page will be added to the district's website in the near future. Regular updates will be provided as the redistricting process unfolds. The first public information session for redistricting will be held via webinar on August 27 at 7:00 p.m. This initiative reflects the district's commitment to transparency and community input.Stay tuned for further updates as we unveil the future of DCS.

     

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  • DCS Embraces Parent Mentor Project for Families of Students with Disabilities

    Posted by Chris Ondrus, Executive Director of Student Services on 2/7/2024

    Special Education Journey Can Be Difficult to Navigate

    Special education means specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. This simple concept quickly becomes complicated. Between consent forms, an evaluation involving 14 categories of eligibility, and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with 15 different sections (16 if the child has a visual impairment), many families can feel overwhelmed with the process that is designed to help their child. We have wonderful special education staff and administrators to support families in this journey, and yet, sometimes it’s helpful to talk to someone who has been there before; someone who has successfully navigated the special education world in Dublin City Schools.

    Ohio Parent Mentor Project

    For more than 10 years, we have participated in the Ohio Parent Mentor Project, a grant funded initiative to help families navigate special education processes and to help them better support their children. In Dublin, our Special Education Parent Mentor is Dee Marks. Dee is the parent of two children with disabilities, which gives her the unique ability to see through the same lens as the parent. Since Dee has “been there and done that”, her experiences and insight can create a level of trust and connection different from an intervention specialist or student services coordinator. She talks with parents about their specific concerns, reviews documents with them, and attends meetings alongside them.

    Program Fair for Additional Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

    Dee also hosts parent trainings throughout the year and shares community resources. For example, on January 13, 2024, on behalf of Dublin City Schools, Dee hosted our annual summer program fair for students with disabilities at Emerald Campus. Over 30 vendors were able to share their services and answer questions for parents looking to plan summer camps, sports and therapies for their children this summer. Dee will soon become a frequent contributor to Inside DCS, our community newsletter, to increase her visibility to the parents of the nearly 2500 students with disabilities in Dublin City Schools.

     

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  • Educational Technology is a Revolving Door

    Posted by Kelly Ramm, PreK-12 Director of Technology on 1/31/2024
     

    Technology Upgrades Enhance Student Learning

    Because we know that students need to use technology to think critically, communicate, collaborate, and create digital content, Dublin City Schools is committed to enhancing our students' classroom learning experience through innovative technological advancements. In support of this commitment, we are excited to share some fantastic technology updates.

    The Classroom Display Project: Transforming Learning Spaces

    As learning spaces evolve, we are dedicated to updating classroom displays, marking the third year of our comprehensive five-year plan. A committee of staff members diligently worked during the 2022-23 school year to identify a standardized solution that addresses four key needs:

    1. Empowering classroom teachers to screen share wirelessly to large displays.

    2. Facilitating flexible teaching from anywhere in the classroom for improved connection and collaboration.

    3. Ensuring a consistent experience across classrooms and buildings.

    4. Establishing sustainability in terms of technical support, network load, training, life cycle and cost.

    The Solution

    The implemented solution includes flat-screen TVs, screencasting devices, and iPads for middle and high schools, interactive displays for K-1 elementary rooms, and new LCD projectors, casting devices, and iPads for grades 2-5 classrooms. This technology untethers the teacher from the front of the classroom, allowing them to move around and engage with students. These enhanced displays offer superior brightness, sharper resolution, increased interactivity, and compatibility with various educational applications.

    Timeline

    With an annual budget of approximately $750,000, we systematically update each classroom in five of our school buildings, starting with our oldest buildings. The process involves classroom visits during the winter and spring to assess needs and plan equipment removal. Collaborative efforts among technology staff, district operations, and building teams ensure a smooth project launch on the first day of the summer break.

    Old equipment, including Smartboards, Mac Minis, Tube TVs, VCRs, and Chalkboards are removed. New technology is installed and finishing touches such as wall patches and paint complete the project.

    To facilitate a seamless transition, teaching and learning coaches conduct professional development sessions with building staff in the spring. This ensures that educators are well-prepared to integrate the new display technology into their teaching methods from the first day of the school year, with additional support provided at the start of the academic term.

    The Numbers So Far - 10 Buildings Completed

    110 Projectors

    242 Whiteboards

    220 TVs

    37 Interactive Displays

    458 iPads

    447 Vivi Screen Sharing

    Updated Wifi Access Points in Schools

    Staying connected is key to modern education and DCS is enhancing our infrastructure to support this. Last summer, we upgraded Wifi access points in our high schools. This summer, the middle and elementary schools will be updated as well. This upgrade ensures a reliable and high-speed connection, enabling our students and staff to seamlessly access online resources and engage in interactive learning experiences.

    Dublin City Schools remains steadfast in our commitment to providing an educational environment that equips students for success in an ever-evolving world. As we continue on this technological journey, we eagerly anticipate the positive impact these enhancements will have on students' education.

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  • What's New in Human Resources

    Posted by Bryan Buoni, Executive Director of Human Resources on 1/25/2024

    Some of the challenges facing human resources departments in the education industry today are a lack of efficiency and time spent on transactional activities; a throwback to a time when "personnel" departments were awash in paper and forms. In Dublin, this has been especially true in the area of Human Resources Information Systems. As our district has continued to grow and change over time, our ability to house employee information has outgrown our current in-house processes.

    A few years ago, when our central offices were relocated to our current location, we began looking at options for a new and more efficient HR information system. Due to the pandemic and the staffing challenges it created, this change was put on hold. We revisited the need for this in 2022, and ultimately began the process of interviewing vendors, talking with other school districts, and selecting a company in 2023.  

    We made the decision to partner with Frontline Technologies for a cloud-based HR database platform. Frontline Technologies is our current provider for absence management, timekeeping for hourly staff, and professional growth tracking for teachers and administrators. Using another Frontline tool allows for a smooth transfer of data and the added bonus of familiarity for staff members. 

    This product, aimed at increasing efficiency, will provide a platform to electronically-deliver forms and documents, and also give employees self-service options to make updates and changes to their information, such as a name change, updated marital status or a new telephone number.

    The work with Frontline began in earnest during the second half of 2023, and is slated for completion by Summer 2024. This is just one example of how the Human Resources department is committed to finding ways to be more efficient, to steward resources wisely, and to solidify processes that will enable us to grow as a district into the future.

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  • Committing to the All-Day Kindergarten Model

    Posted by Dr. Jennifer Schwanke, Deputy Superintendent on 1/17/2024

    Dublin City Schools has long offered kindergarten in a “half day” model, with students attending school either in the morning or the afternoon. Many parents, teachers, and community members have wondered why the District does not offer all-day kindergarten. While our longstanding half-day model has been rigorous and provides an excellent introduction to school, there are numerous benefits to having kindergarteners in school all day. 

    Knowing this, we promised our community that passage of the 2023 levy would provide for the addition of all-day kindergarten to our elementary schools. As soon as levy results were finalized, we immediately began the process of planning the additional staff, space, and resources required for successful implementation of a full-day program. This change will occur in the fall of 2025. 

    We understand our community has many questions and we would like to provide some of those answers here. Please know that the preparatory work will take the better part of a year, but here is a sneak peek at some of the common questions:

    Will all-day kindergarten be available at all elementary schools in the district? Will it be open to all students? 

    Yes. All-day kindergarten will be available at all elementary schools and will be open to all students. 

    Will DCS kindergarten be 5 days a week?

    Yes. Kindergarteners will attend school on the same timeline and schedule as their peers in first through fifth grade. 

    In levy materials, the District used language stating “the current plan is…” This seems a bit noncommittal. Is there any level of certainty that all-day kindergarten will indeed be available in 2025 as previously stated?

    Yes. Dublin City Schools is committed to providing a full day kindergarten experience for all students. 

    Why not offer it sooner than the 2025-2026 school year? 

    There is extensive planning required to add all-day kindergarten, including adjustments to the instructional program and shifts in staffing. It also requires space. The redistricting in the northwest section of the district—which will occur to prepare for the opening of Elementary 15— will open up necessary classrooms for all-day kindergarten. The elimination of our ELI (Early Literacy Intervention) program, which previously provided additional hours of instruction for kindergarten students needing additional intervention, will also provide additional space.

    Who will be able to enroll? 

    As aligned with the Ohio Revised Code, the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, and Board of Education policy, children who were born between October 1, 2019, and September 30, 2020, are eligible to enroll in kindergarten for the 2025-2026 school year. 

    I have a child who fits in this age window. When can I enroll? 

    Enrollment will open in mid-January of 2025. Please keep an eye on the District website for more specific dates.   

    Can parents still choose a half-day option? 

    No. All students will participate in the full day program.

    How do I know what school my child will attend?  

    Go to our district website. Click “families” and then “Boundaries and Maps.” When you enter your address, it will tell you where your child is currently slated to attend. 

    Will there be changes to the current kindergarten curriculum? 

    Our Teaching and Learning department is currently reviewing the kindergarten curriculum and exploring how it will be expanded and adjusted to accommodate an all-day schedule. These changes will include related arts programming, lunch, recess, and expanded instruction and intervention (as needed). 

    I will have a kindergartener in the 2025-2026 school year, but it still seems a long way away. As we get closer, will you keep us updated on any changes? 

    Each spring, all elementary schools host a Kindergarten Information Night. Please keep an eye out for the date (spring of 2025). We will share all the information you will need for a successful kindergarten year!

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  • Levy Success Equals “Yes, and” Decisions

    Posted by Dr. John Marschhausen, Superintendent on 1/11/2024

    The Dublin City School District is grateful for our community’s support of the November 2023 levy request. Passage of the levy provides the revenue needed for daily operation and facility maintenance. As district leaders, we are also keenly aware of the burden the levy cycle creates for our taxpayers. The slim margin of victory is indicative of levy fatigue and frustration with increasing costs that come with rapid enrollment growth in the school community.

    We intend to honor the responsibility that comes with this levy’s passage. As such, we do not plan to continue with “business as usual,” meaning we will not simply return to our pre-levy approach. As we shared at many information sessions leading to Election Day, this was a “yes, and” levy. That’s why, even with the passage of the levy, we must also implement opportunities to increase efficiency and reduce costs. 

    Like any budget, ours is simple when viewed at the highest level— we have revenue and we have expenses. Unfortunately, for public school districts in Ohio, elite performance doesn’t equate to increased revenue. We would be profitable if the Dublin City School district were a business, because we provide an excellent educational “product” and have extremely admirable results. Yet, because of the current funding model in Ohio, when we do well and are desirable as a destination for families, we see increasing enrollment without increasing revenue. 

    All indicators point to continued enrollment growth in our district for the next decade. As our student count increases, we will need additional buildings, teachers, and staff. Without changes, without doing business differently, we would need to ask voters for larger levies at shorter intervals. Such actions would be irresponsible and tone-deaf; that we are not. Our Board and leadership team have overtly committed to increasing efficiency. Even with strong community support, we must strive to stretch each levy cycle as long as possible. Meeting this goal begins now with improving our scheduling process and keeping an eye on future housing developments. 

    Infinite Campus, our new student information system (SIS), has many capabilities, including an academic planning feature to create master schedules. Previously, our district was using three different software programs to accomplish the same task. This month, students will select courses in their Infinite Campus student portal. Then, Infinite Campus will draft several master schedule scenarios that maximize the number of students in course sections. We don’t want to reduce opportunities for students, but we do want to know where we can reduce costs. Co-seating courses with low enrollment or alternating semesters or years they are offered supports our “Yes, and” philosophy.

    We may also assign any new housing developments to specific schools to balance student enrollment. We provide transparency and clarity so people know the schools their children will attend before they buy a new home or sign a lease. We know we will need to redistrict some elementary students when we open our 15th elementary in August 2025; we also know we will need to redistrict our middle schools to balance the student population. Additionally, school districts must be part of housing decisions in Central Ohio. We understand there is a housing shortage in our region, but the solution can’t be funded at the expense of school children. Economic development incentives that redirect money from classrooms to developers, can’t continue without public discussion. Local schools are directly harmed by legal municipal decisions that aren’t in the best interest of our communities. We must shine a light on how housing is incentivized in our community and the impact on future levies.

    We can, and we will, be more efficient without compromising the quality of education for the students in the Dublin City Schools. Continuing with “business as usual” would require another operating levy within three years. Our team is committed to stretching the 2023 levy to at least four years. We will continue to seek innovative solutions (like Emerald Campus at the high school level and redistricting in the K-8 grades) to accommodate increasing enrollment, and welcome public participation along the way.

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  • A New Year Means Planning for 2024-2025

    Posted by Lori Marple, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning on 1/4/2024

    As the calendar flips to 2024, Dublin City Schools continues to plan for our current students while also thinking ahead to the 2024-2025 school year:

    Secondary Scheduling for 2024-25
    Starting in January, our 6-12 students will begin to schedule for a new academic school year.  This year, student scheduling will occur in our new Student Information System, Infinite Campus. This system will allow students to select preferred courses and alternates for their schedule. Our high school students will use an academic planning tool that will guide them to consider their four-year plan as they work on their course requests for 2024-25.  Our Academic Programs & Pathways provide valuable information about the varied learning opportunities available to our students. Did you know DCS offers courses in:

    • Financial Literacy & Wellbeing

    • Engineering, Cybersecurity, and Computer Science

    • Entrepreneurship

    • Data Science and Statistics

    • World Languages

    • Environmental Sciences

    • Government & History

    • Experiential Academies

    At middle school this year, students will notice some new electives available to our 7th grade students. These changes were a part of a multi-year review of our middle level academic programs and provide students instruction in areas that align with their academic needs, interests and aptitude.

    Achieving Economic Efficiency
    In our commitment to continuous improvement, Dublin City Schools is actively working on streamlining our master scheduling process and ensuring appropriate staffing for optimal class sizes. As we examine areas where we can improve efficiency, our use of the Infinite Campus scheduling tools will allow us to more closely monitor class sizes and master schedule building. For our students, this will mean that the choices they make now for next fall are critical and that, in some cases, students will need to rely on alternate course choices. Once the student and building schedules are in place, we don’t anticipate room in classes and flexibility for last-minute schedule changes next fall. Using Infinite Campus to its fullest potential will maximize our resources, so we can provide the best possible learning environment for our students while being good financial stewards.

    Our Youngest Learners
    This winter, our K-3 students will receive early literacy screening using the Dibels 8 Dyslexia Screener during our regular winter assessment window. This screener will identify students whose current level of skills indicate they may be at risk of reading difficulties. Dublin Schools uses this information, combined with other student assessment data to ensure that our young readers are getting the intervention and support needed to become skilled readers, writers, listeners and speakers. This instructional support begins in a student’s classroom where they are learning from our Phonics program, 95 Phonics and learning from our teachers who have recently completed 20+ hours of structured literacy professional learning. Today (before the screener), we are currently providing Tier 2 and Tier 3 intervention support to 767 elementary students (11% of our elementary population). We anticipate that this number will increase once we have completed winter assessments, but to what extent we are not sure.

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  • Proposed Residential Housing in Concord Township

    Posted by Cassie Dietrich, Public Information Officer on 12/15/2023 3:00:00 PM

    Any planned housing development, regardless of scale, has the potential to impact Dublin City Schools and the learning experience of our students. As such, we want to be intentional in sharing with our taxpayers the details of any potential zoning changes before decisions are made by elected officials.

    On December 19, Concord Township’s Zoning Department will review an application to rezone 36 acres of current farmland to a planned residential district. The proposed housing development, called The Courtyards on Concord, features 54 single-family homes, a clubhouse, a pool, pickleball court, and other outdoor amenities. 

    Our district, especially in the northwest quadrant, continues to face challenges with increased enrollment. The prospect of additional high density residential development in Concord Township increases the need for future substantial school levy requests. As we build our fifteenth elementary, the district is already considering the need for additional elementary buildings, a sixth middle school, and potentially a fourth high school.  The school district doesn’t make zoning or development decisions. During the recent levy campaign we pledged to share information about residential growth; we know it is a concern to many in our community.

    We acknowledge the importance of responsible growth for the prosperity of our community, but we must also ensure that such development aligns with the needs of our schools. We encourage community members to actively engage in the decision-making process by contacting their township trustees. Your input is invaluable as the department considers the rezoning application. The December 19 meeting will be held at 7 pm at the Concord Township Administrative Building. More information can be found on the Concord Township website: https://www.concordtwp.org/zoning/index.html

    If you believe, as we do, that the integrity of our schools must be a central consideration in decisions around economic development, we encourage you to contact your elected officials and participate in the public discourse surrounding planned housing developments. Your involvement is key to ensuring that the growth of our community aligns with the values and priorities we hold dear. Together, let us navigate this period of growth with a shared commitment to the elite learning community that is Dublin City Schools.

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  • Welcome to DCS, Elementary 15!

    Posted by Cassie Dietrich, Public Information Officer on 12/14/2023 8:00:00 PM

    Thanks to our taxpayers passing Issue 12, construction of Elementary 15 is slated to begin in the spring of 2024. Ford and Associates (the lead architect on the project) is currently working with the City of Dublin on finalizing the site drawings that will lead to the permits needed to break ground.

    Below are some architectural renderings of the new school. Elementary 15 will have a similar footprint to Hopewell Elementary and Abraham Depp Elementary, both of which opened in 2020.


    Elementary 15 will be located next to Jerome High School off Cacchio Lane.

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