New school construction was not on the agenda until 1999 when Lima was among the first districts to become eligible for new school buildings through the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC). The OSFC offered to fund approximately 90 percent of the cost.
In November 1999, a 4.15 mill bond issue passed with the support of 67 percent of the district’s voters. In addition to the 4.15 mill bond issue, the district’s voters also approved a .95 mill bond for the purposes of site acquisition and building an auditorium. The second bond was necessary to include an auditorium in the new high school. Through the state, funds were only available for a combination cafeteria/auditorium. With the extensive arts programs in the Lima City Schools, the second bond was proposed and supported by 62 percent of the district’s voters.
Through the building project, all of the district’s buildings were renovated, converted or replaced. After many discussions with the OSFC, the final plans were to renovate Lima North Middle School, convert Lima West Middle School to an elementary school, and build four new elementary schools, two new middle schools and a new high school.
New School Names
In October 2001, a "Name That School" event was held. Over 200 suggestions were received and opinions on a district-wide mascot and colors were gathered. From the suggestions, the committee offered five themes with several names for each theme: Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame Inductees; Famous Ohioans; Ohio Presidents; Famous Americans and Patriotic.
The recommendation included keeping the names of the middle schools and high school the same. In January 2002, the Board of Education voted to accept the Patriotic theme and named the elementary schools: Freedom Elementary School on Calumet Avenue; Heritage Elementary School on College Avenue; Independence Elementary School on Metcalf Street; Liberty Elementary School on Kibby Street; and Unity Elementary School on East Third Street.
The Board also approved adding Lima to the name of each middle school. In December 2001, the Board had approved the Spartan as the mascot for all schools in the district and scarlet and grey as the colors.
While the community was working on school names, people volunteered to make the school closings and openings special.
On Sunday, May 5, 2002, the Lima City Schools held a Homecoming Celebration. The schools were open in the afternoon and a short closing ceremony was held on the front lawn of South Middle School at 4:30 p.m. with music by the Lima Senior Symphonic Band. A balloon launch was held at the closing of the ceremony. Attendees launched 500 balloons, in all the colors of the district’s schools, as a way to remember the history of the district and embrace the new era.
At Lima Senior, the documentary, "Recalling the Past — Shaping the Future," was shown in the auditorium and many schools made the day special for their guests with scrapbooks and photos. A commemorative booklet, featuring all of the schools in the district, was presented to guests. Over 2,000 people attended the Homecoming Celebration.
Building Boom Continues
On June 3, 2002, three groundbreakings were held for Lima South Middle School, Lima Senior High School and the conversion of the former West Middle School into the new Heritage Elementary School.
Lima South Middle School sits on the former South High School site and incorporates architectural features of the original building. Almost 200 parcels were purchased to acquire the 38.5-acre site for the new Lima Senior just east of Lima Stadium. The site also includes the property where the East Building stood in the late 1800s. A few hundred people gathered for the Lima Senior groundbreaking that was attended by Ohio Governor Bob Taft and many local and state officials.
On August 26, 2002, three new schools opened in Lima and the Lima North Middle School renovation was complete.
Freedom combined students from part of Edison and Washington-McKinley Elementary Schools and Unity combined students from part of Edison and Whittier Elementary Schools. Lima South Middle School houses the middle school Science-Technology Magnet Program and all middle schools now serve grades five through eight.
In December 2002, the conversion of Heritage Elementary School was completed. Heritage combined students from Horace Mann, Westwood and the elementary Arts Magnet Program.
On June 3, 2003, exactly one year after the groundbreaking for Lima Senior and the anniversary of Lima’s first commencement, the last two groundbreakings of this building project were scheduled for Independence and Liberty Elementary Schools. Due to inclement weather, the groundbreakings were postponed until Friday, June 6.
Independence is on the former Irving site and combines students from Irving and Emerson Elementary Schools. Liberty is on the land between the former Lincoln Elementary School and the original Lima Senior High School. It combines students from Faurot and Lowell Elementary Schools.
In August 2004, Lima South Middle School, Lima Senior High School and Independence Elementary School opened. The new Lima Senior High School is 284,861 square feet complete with a state-of-the-art auditorium, media center and gymnasium for a cost of approximately $35,000,000.
Liberty Elementary School opened in January 2005 marking the completion of the most recent building project.
In the 2006-2007 school year, the Lima City School District celebrates its sesquicentennial with all new and renovated buildings.
The most recent change came just a few years ago with a district-wide reorganization. A kindergarten through eighth-grade arts magnet building opened at Liberty Elementary School and South became home to the kindergarten throught eighth-grade science and technology magnet program.
The district's administrative offices, now called the Dr. Earl McGovern Educational Center, was also moved to a wing at South. The former educational center was closed.
The district's middle schools also saw a change. Lima North is now home to fifth and sixth-graders and West home to seventh and eighth-graders.
In early 2013, the school board voted to move Lima Senior High School away from the small-schools concept, which it had been doing for 10 years.
When the 2013-14 school year began, Lima Senior returned to one high school, reinvigorating the Spartan spirit and pride.
That same year the district kicked off a $1.8 million renovation project of the stadum. Completed in time for the 2014-15 football season, the school board renamed it Spartan Stadium. It was an effort to continue the momentum of a growing Spartan spirit and pride.