LICKING COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — School districts in Licking County are preparing for the potential Intel impact.

The Northridge School District, one of the more rural districts in Northwest Licking County, took a big step in those preparations.

This week they broke ground on a much-needed new football stadium. Northridge’s current stadium was built in the 1960’s. It has an unusable track and an outdated football field without proper facilities. That won’t be the case this time next year.

“We are so excited to be able to kick this project off now and be able to build new facilities for our students in the future,” said Jayma Bamnerlin, Northridge School Board Vice President.

This project is four years in the making and took millions of dollars’ worth of fundraising from the community.

Bamnerlin said the athletic boosters raised $2 million to kickstart the project. The total cost of the project will be around $8 million.

This groundbreaking milestone comes at a time when the district is bracing for impact from Intel.

“The importance is really for our students right now. We’ve had this planned way before Intel was announced but we know as intel and all of the employees start moving to southwestern Licking County that we are going to increase our student population,” Bamnerlin said.

The new athletic stadium will include a turf field, concession stand, proper facilities and more bleachers.

“It’s just really important for the future of our students in terms of being able to play on the level filled with the other schools that we compete against,” said Northridge School District Superintendent Dr. Kristine Michael. “We also want to be a district for the families that are moving to western Licking County for Intel they can see us and say, ‘oh I want to be there now just because of our academic program but because of our facilities as well.’”

Dr. Michael said they can’t predict exactly what the impact will look like. She said this is something they talk about every day.

“We track building permits, we’re talking to all the other schools in Licking County on a weekly basis,” Michael said.

Both Northridge and Johnstown-Monroe are enhancing their steam programs.

“I see it as job opportunities for a Northridge graduates to be able to stay in central Ohio area and be able to earn not just a living wage, but a really competitive wage so we are excited to be able to help our students get prepared to be able to be the ones that get hired for those jobs,” Michael said.

Johnstown-Monroe’s superintendent Dr. Phillip H. Wagner said their current enrollment is 1,700 students. He said they are monitoring the growth closely.

“We are working closely with local government officials, particularly the City of Johnstown, to manage residential development, while shaping compensation agreements for commercial development to help fund any future expansion needs. Although a lot is still not known, the J-M schools are preparing models that could include a potential for enrollment expansion to 5,000 students,” Wagner said.

For Northridge, a rural district planning on staying rural through the changes, school leaders say this stadium is a new beginning.

“It’s hard for school districts to plan too much for the future you have to plan with based on your finances and your enrollment you have now, but we all know we need to be braced for change,” Dr. Michael said.

Dr. Michael said this is an exciting time, but she is always keeping in mind that it is a difficult time for some. She said they are always looking to keep a balance.

Intel still has a few years left until they are set to finish construction. This new stadium, however, is expected to be ready by next football season.