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New Johnstown-Monroe superintendent preparing for Intel population boom

Dr. Philip Wagner is preparing for growth in Johnstown schools with Intel's impending construction.

JOHNSTOWN, Ohio — Outside Johnstown High School there’s a heavy symbol. It’s a rock that represents the students, the community and the foundation of the district.

That’s exactly what Dr. Philip Wagner intends to build on.

“It’s a focus,” he said. “It has to be this year to get ready. We want to preserve the essence of Johnstown, but we’re gonna have to plan for how do we grow.”

Wagner, after serving 11 years as the superintendent of Licking Heights, now takes the same job in Johnstown-Monroe.

“That’s really the challenge I see for the future is moving forward we’re going to have to grow and how we grow,” he said.

If growth is the biggest obstacle, Wagner is arguably the best person for the job.

When Dr. Wagner took over as Licking Heights’s superintendent in 2011 there was a student population of 3,300. When he left this year, that number was up to 5,000. The current student population at Johnstown-Monroe is 1,700. And, because of Intel, his district is about to see a big boom.

RELATED: House passes CHIPS Act, paves the way for Intel's move into Ohio

To deal with population expansion and student body growth, Dr. Wagner said during his time at Licking Heights his administration put upwards of eight levies in front of voters. Not all of them passed, but most did.

He leaves Licking Heights after the passing of a $66 million bond that will consist of five different building projects. With Intel set to break ground in west Licking County, Wagner knows growth will follow.

10TV’s Bryant Somerville asked, “Are we prepared to handle that here in Johnstown? What do we look to do to alleviate that growth?”

“We’re not ready yet,” Wagner said.

But, Wagner said they are starting to work on planning and enrollment projections. He believes it’s his history and experience with how to handle these situations that, along with a strong focus on education, will build onto the strong foundation that Johnstown has already laid down.

“I believe in education so strongly,” he said. “I think it’s going to help not only the students, it’s gonna help the community and what we’re gonna do…we’re gonna prioritize this year and get all of our models built and we’re gonna be ready to scale. That’s what we’re gonna need to do.”

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