Olentangy grows beyond its limits
As more and more schools are built, the number of people living in the district increases resulting in an overflow of the traffic and over population in the Olentangy District. People new and old to the district, are seeing lots of changes happening in the area.
Polaris and Powell are both over populated areas in the community. According to Delaware County’s website, from 2000 to 2010, the growth in the
Orange area was an 11,298 person increase and the increase from 2010 to 2015 was 10,991.
“A good school district will attract people wanting to move to the area,” new resident to the Olentangy School District Jeannette Simois said.
The Olentangy District is one of many reasons people move to the area. The schools have reputations for being the “best of the best”. All 3 Olentangy High Schools were ranked in the top 10 schools in Ohio, according to U.S. News in the spring of 2015.
“It was very important to us that we find a place that could offer our children, Nick and Samantha, the same opportunities and programs that they had available to them in Naperville, Illinois,” Simois said.
With the construction at the intersection of Route 750 and 315 all summer long, it has effected people getting to the places they want to go. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the reason for the construction was they decided on putting in a plug pile. A plug pile essentially, disturbs less of the natural environment, as well as, reduces the amount of water in the river.
Longtime resident, Wendi Golias describes the traffic as frustrating. “It is insanity whenever we go out, especially on weekends,” Golias said.
A benefit of living in a community that has so many people is that there is a variety and plethora of stores and restaurants nearby. Everything is at the community members’ fingertips, which provides easy access in people’s daily lives.
“I would say a pro of driving in Powell is that there is a lot that we need close to home that we can get to from Sawmill or Route 23. The roads seem to be well maintained and people seem very courteous,” Simois said.
The main con for most people who live in the Olentangy District is the traffic. It is a huge setback and dilemma for getting places on time.
“Too much stress when having to deal with traffic, it adds an extra 10 minutes onto my husband’s drive to work in the morning,” Golias said.
Another concern with the traffic is the congestion, and once the seasons change to winter some of the roads are not as cleaned off as they should be which backs up traffic even more.
Simios expresses great concern about two lane roads becoming a problem in the winter months. “I hope they will be cleared well in the winter when my husband is driving to work on them.”
Overpopulation in Orange
Oversized classes, overfilled hallways and an overpopulated district— what is the next step? Since it’s opening, the Olentangy District has grown each year, from one elementary, middle and high school to fifteen, five and three, respectively. In just a few years, Orange High School has expanded from a total of 800 students in the first year to 460 students in this year’s freshman class alone.
Such rapid growth inevitably leads to changes, some of which are negative. One of the problems that accompanies overpopulation is packed hallways that make it almost impossible to get to class.
“Someone could get trampled in there and no one would notice because it’s so crowded,” senior Isaac Arefi said.
The large population also causes class sizes to increase which sometimes affects student’s ability to learn. “Being in a class with 28 other kids can sometimes make it hard to concentrate, as freshman Nick Kaschak said,” it makes me act differently.”
The faculty and students at Oak Creek Elementary School understand the difficult aspects of overpopulation from experience and have had to be creative in how they deal with it. They are the overflow building for Olentangy Meadows Elementary School, meaning that once Olentangy Meadows admits the maximum amount of students, the rest are sent to Oak Creek.
This year more students were sent than were anticipated, causing Natalie Sekula, a first grade teacher, to have to teach in the guidance counselor’s office, a much smaller space. “Teachers must be willing to ‘think outside the box’ when setting up their rooms, especially if they aren’t in a standard classroom,” Sekula said.
However, there are also positive aspects to the district’s la
rge population. “The rate of growth has also allowed for an increase in the diversity of our students which provides firsthand learning about various races, religions, and cultures,” said Sekula. In addition, a large population often improves athletic and academic performances.
As for a concrete solution to this problem, there are a few options being discussed by a facilities planning committee appointed solely to address the issue. According to Assistant Principal Mr. Smith, the most realistic options include making additions to the existing high schools to add space, creating a central academy for STEM classes as an alternative possibility for students and building a fourth high school. He adds that a decision will probably be made within the next year.