South-Western City School District (Franklin County, Ohio)
|South-Western City School District|
|Type and location|
|Established||January 1, 1956|
|Location||Grove City, Ohio|
|Superintendent||Dr. Bill Wise|
|Students and staff|
|Athletic Conference||Ohio Capital Conference|
|Colors||blue and green|
The South-Western City School District is Ohio's sixth largest public school district located southwest of the city of Columbus. The district serves nearly 20,000 students throughout the southwest quadrant of Franklin County, including the cities of Galloway, Georgesville, Grove City, and Urbancrest. The district also serves all of Franklin, Jackson, Pleasant, and Prairie townships and a portion of Columbus.
The district operates 16 elementary schools, five intermediate schools, five middle schools, four high schools, and a career academy.
Only one high school was in existence in the area now called the South-Western City School District in 1954. Six boards of education governed the individual school districts serving the area. Population was growing rapidly then, as it has continued to do since. Schools were sorely pressed to meet the needs.
Only the Franklin Local District had a financial base adequate to support the growing demands. That situation came about because of the location of large industrial operations in the years just prior to 1936. A committee of citizens representing the six districts was formed, and meetings were held with members of the various boards of education, and with county and state officials.
On January 1, 1956, the South-Western Local School District was formed. It was a consolidation of five local systems and one exempted village school system. These were: the Grove City-Jackson Exempted Village District, the Franklin Township Local District, the Prairie Township Local District, the Pleasant Township Local District, the Urbancrest Village District, and the Georgesville Local District.
The consolidation was planned for: economy of operation; expediency to provide an adequate education for children of the area; opportunity because of the greater financial base of the newly-combined school district; and potential for support of a quality school system.
Immediately following the creation of the new district, an additional tax levy for operation expenses was requested of voters and was approved. That same year, a bond issue to pay for construction of additional school buildings was also requested of voters, and was approved.
The years from 1957 to 1960 were tumultuous ones for the district. Population soared so that each year more than 1,000 new students entered the schools. This necessitated a huge financial outlay for additional buildings, the employment of teachers to staff the new classrooms, and the provision of adequate services.
The tax duplicate of the district also grew rapidly during these years, and fortunate it was, as the State of Ohio’s participation in financing education in the district decreased from nearly 40 percent at the beginning of the period to less than 30 percent of the necessary costs by the end of the decade. During the same period, bond issues and tax levies requested of voters were not approved time after time at the ballot. Costs soared as new students continued to enroll in the district’s schools. As the area became more heavily populated, Grove City changed from a village to a chartered city in 1958. On August 19, 1959, the Board of Education of South-Western Local Schools took action as outlined in law to change the status of the school system and the South-Western City School District was established.
By this time, public sentiment was so aroused by the obvious need of the schools that a major school operating tax levy, and shortly thereafter a bond issue for the construction of additional buildings, was approved. At that point, the South-Western City School District started to achieve a reputation as one of Ohio’s most outstanding school districts. Continuously throughout the following seven years improvements were made within the district. Kindergarten and special programs began, vitally needed counseling and psychological services were added, and a technical and vocational program was greatly expanded. Culminating the achievements during this period was the building of the Paul C. Hayes Technical Training Center.
Changes in laws governing state participation in financing school districts brought a financial squeeze in 1968. During that time, cutbacks in personnel and services brought challenges to the school district. Cutbacks continued in 1969 and 1970 as the percentage of state participation in financing the South-Western City Schools continued to decline. Voters turned down requests for approval of additional operating levies – even though the school tax rates in the South-Western City School District have always been very low in comparison with other districts in Franklin County.
A crowning achievement of the district was the opening, during the 1970-1971 school year, of two new high schools: Westland High School and Grove City High School. These two buildings, planned to house two thousand students, were built in 1970-1971 at the amazing low cost of $18.98 per square foot, or a perpupil cost of $1,700. These buildings were classed by architects and educators as “ten years ahead of the times.”
To stem crisis-level overcrowding, in 1998 the district’s voters passed one of the largest school construction bond issues in the history of Ohio. The issue made way for the construction of four intermediate schools (fifth and sixth grade buildings), a middle school, an additional high school, and a technical career center, as well as renovations to seven existing schools.
The first of the construction projects began with the renovations to the district’s current high school auditoriums and fine arts areas. Auditoriums received substantial upgrades with new floor coverings, seating, lighting, and sound systems; and music education facilities were renovated and expanded. Considerable work was also done to the high school athletic facilities, with stadium expansions/upgrades, and renovations as needed to gyms, locker rooms, and weight-training facilities. All of the high school athletic fields also benefited from new, high-efficiency lighting.
The district’s middle schools also saw significant improvements to auditoriums in the summer of 1999, with new seating, wall and floor coverings, lighting and sound systems. Once described as “eyesores,” the auditoriums became functional, welcoming spaces for school and community use. The first four of the seven planned schools opened in January 2001, serving nearly 3,200 fifth and sixth grade students throughout the district. The intermediate schools not only eased the overcrowding at the elementary and middle schools, but they became models of cost-effective and efficient educational facilities. When the construction accounts closed on the first four intermediate schools, the completed projects were approximately $913,000 under their collective construction budgets. Not only were the buildings under budget, their capacity was increased by 100 students each in anticipation of higher enrollments than originally expected.
In the summer of 2001, the Board of Education dedicated Jackson Middle School. Jackson Middle School replaced Park Street Middle School (formerly known as the Jackson Township/Grove City High School building). Since 1928 the Jackson Township/ Grove City High School building had been a fixture on Park Street. In keeping with district expectations, the project finished at more than $200,000 under its construction budget, with a 100-student greater capacity than originally planned.
The district’s fourth high school, Central Crossing, completed its first year of operation with just freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in the school. Central Crossing High School saw its first graduating class in the Spring of 2004. The opening of the 272,000 square-foot, 1,800-student capacity school provided much-needed space at Franklin Heights, Grove City, and Westland High Schools, which had been critically overcrowded.
One of the unique community amenities provided at Central Crossing High School is the Central Crossing Branch of Southwest Public Libraries, which is available to the community when school is not in session.
The South-Western Career Academy also opened in the fall of 2002. The full-service career/technical school serves juniors and seniors from the South- Western City School District, offering them a wide array of traditional and non-traditional technical courses. Career Academy students access stateof- the-art programming and technology that helps to prepare them for either a career or college. The South-Western Career Academy is host to the nation’s first AAA Sales and Service Office located within a school.
As a result of the well-managed construction projects, taxpayers received one more building than anticipated. From the savings realized from the preceding projects, combined with interest earnings on investments, the district had the resources to convert Paul C. Hayes Technical School into an additional fifth and sixth grade school, Hayes Intermediate School. In 2009, the district closed two of its buildings - Harrisburg Elementary School and Kingston School, as part of its cost containment strategies. Also in 2009, the Auditor of State’s office conducted a Performance Audit of the district. The district continues to aggressively pursue the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Performance Audit. Strategies and timelines have been developed to assist the district in this implementation process.
|Alton Hall||Cougar Cubs||Galloway, Ohio||Green & White||1960|
|Buckeye Woods||Bobcats||Grove City, Ohio||Dark Blue & Gray||1995|
|Darby Woods||Cougar Cubs||Galloway, Ohio||Green & White||1995|
|Darbydale||Dolphins||Darbydale, Ohio||Navy Blue & White||1958|
|East Franklin||Eagles||Columbus, Ohio||Blue & White||1955|
|Finland||Eagles||Galloway, Ohio||Red & Blue||1958|
|Harmon||Hawks||Columbus, Ohio||Red & White||1950|
|Highland Park||Unicorns||Grove City, Ohio||Blue & White||1969|
|Monterey||Mustangs||Grove City, Ohio||Green & White||1963|
|North Franklin||Cougar Cubs||Columbus, Ohio||Blue & Gold||1920|
|Prairie Lincoln||Cardinals||Columbus, Ohio||Red & White||1957|
|Prairie Norton||Bulldogs||Columbus, Ohio||Purple & Gold||1951|
|Richard Avenue||Roadrunners||Grove City, Ohio||Blue & White||1958|
|JC Sommer||Jets||Grove City, Ohio||Red & White||1957|
|Stiles||Wildcats||Columbus, Ohio||Blue & White||1963|
|West Franklin||Falcons||Columbus, Ohio||Black & Gold||1954|
|Franklin Woods||Bulldogs||Columbus, Ohio||Black & Silver||2001|
|Galloway Ridge||Bobcats||Galloway, Ohio||Navy Blue & Gray||2001|
|Hayes||Huskies||Grove City, Ohio||Navy Blue & White||2003|
|Holt Crossing||Rockets||Grove City, Ohio||Royal Blue & Silver||2001|
|Park Street||Timber Wolves||Grove City, Ohio||Navy Blue & Carolina Blue||2001|
|Brookpark||Trojans||Grove City, Ohio||Red & White||1964|
|Finland||Vikings||Columbus, Ohio||Blue & Gold||1964|
|Jackson||Jaguars||Grove City, Ohio||Red & Blue||2001|
|Norton||Wildcats||Columbus, Ohio||Royal Blue & White||1964|
|Pleasant View||Panthers||Grove City, Ohio||Green & Gold||1959|
|Central Crossing||Comets||Grove City, Ohio||Royal Blue & Silver||2002|
|Franklin Heights||Golden Falcons||Columbus, Ohio||Black & Gold||1956|
|Grove City||Greyhounds||Grove City, Ohio||Crimson & Blue||1970|
|Westland||Cougars||Galloway, Ohio||Forest Green & White||1970|
|South-Western Career Academy||None||Grove City, Ohio||None||2002|
SWCS has always had issues with funding. While they passed a property-tax school levy on their third try in May 2005, a drop in funding from the state as well as other factors such as a spike in gas prices forced the school district to make more than 14 million dollars in reductions after passing the levy. In November 2006 they attempted to pass another levy, a 1% income tax, it was defeated. Fortunately, due to a relatively warm winter and several other items, they only needed to cut one million dollars out of the following year's budget. They decided not to try to pass a levy in May 2007 in hopes that the state budget, re-done in summer of 2007, would provide more funding. The district was again on the ballot November 2008 for additional operating expenses and an Ohio School Facilities Commission building project with the state offering nearly $206 million in tobacco settlement funds to the district and again this bond issue and levy was defeated and the Ohio School Facilities Commission Funding is no longer available. The school board voted in February 2009 to cut all extra-curricular activities and high school busing as well as additional positions in order to shrink the district budget. The district went back on the ballot for another operating levy in May 2009 and again in August 2009 in hopes to reinstate these programs. Both attempts failed and the district started the 2009-2010 school year with no extra-curricular activities, high school busing, etc.
With a projected deficit for the 2009-2010 school year, another levy attempt was made for November 2009. Known as Issue 47, it was the last attempt for increased tax revenues in calendar year 2010 and the possible reinstatment of some extra-curricular activities for the remainder of the 2009-2010 school year. Without the passage of this levy, the district would not have been able to collect additional tax revenues in 2010 and would have continued to fall deeper into a deficit. The issue passed with 19,579 (50.58%) for to 19,130 (49.42%) against via the preliminary count results.
The School Board members are:
Jo Ellen Myers