A $20 million renovation of Waite High School is scheduled to be completed two years before the school celebrates its 100th birthday.
Waite’s portion of the Ohio Schools Facility Commission renovation, part of Toledo Public School’s “Building for Success” program, begins in August this year. Students arriving in the fall of 2012 will welcome new technology, air conditioning, and a return to much of the original architecture.
The school’s original horse-drawn construction was completed in 1914 — the end result of a bond levy supported four years earlier by Toledo voters. Toledo Central H.S., formerly located on Michigan Avenue at the current site of the Toledo-Lucas County Library Main Branch, was being replaced by Jessup Scott H.S. on the west side and Morrison R. Waite H.S. on the east side. The east side school is named after a U.S. Supreme Court chief justice from Toledo.
The original plan for the building called for 158,856 square feet, but a skill center was later added and a 38,222 square foot field house was constructed in 1960.
Just to make sure historic architecture is not lost, destroyed, or covered during the renovation, Waite alumni plan to stay on top of the project.
“The alumni worked on priority and goals. The alumni participation is in the process right now in trying to guarantee some extra meetings so we can stay in touch with the renovation,” said Waite Alumni Association chairman Shirley Jean Clark. “There were a couple little glitches about that, so we’re going to be meeting with them at a facility meeting to make sure the alumni association remains pretty active.”
Principal David Yenrick, an alumnus, has been leading tours to point out upcoming renovations through the East Toledo Club’s walk-a-thon fundraiser on Saturday mornings. Yenrick is not pleased that Waite is getting $17 million less for renovation than its architectural twin, Scott, which is getting $37 million. Waite houses about 1,200 students, personnel, and faculty, which nearly doubles Scott’s numbers — about 600 students, Yenrick said.
In November 2008, voters approved renovations by passing Issue 35 — an update of a bond issue voters passed in 2001. Passage of the levy allowed the TPS board to access dollars approved in 2001 for the building program that had not been spent. Language in the original bond issue limited the uses of those funds.
The renovation will include new heating and air conditioning, paint, technology, lighting, electrical, windows, doors, and ceilings. American Disabilities Act improvements include elevators inside the four-story building.
The renovation will proceed in two major phases. Phase I includes bidding and award of contracts, a design timeline, abatement, creation of swing space, roofing, and new elevators. The bidding process began in April and the entire phase is scheduled to be completed by January 2011.
Historic wooden doors will remain in place inside the building, but Yenrick said the renovation includes no new furniture. Contractors plan to begin inspecting the roof for repairs this summer, the principal added.
Asbestos still existing in the foundation will be removed, and other hazardous materials located anywhere else that are “disturbed” during the renovation process are required to be removed.
Outside brickwork will get tucking and cleaning. There will be new asphalt paving, new concrete curbs and sidewalks, and entrance enhancements will include exterior stair repair and nosings.
When the renovation is done, visitors will be able to identify better where the front and the back of the building is. An urban myth tells about how the building was constructed backwards because it appears to visitors that the front of the high school was supposed to face Front Street.
In truth, the front of the building faces the intersection of East Broadway and Morrison Avenue. To make things even more complicated, in recent decades a skill center was added blocking the original architecture in the back from Front Street.
To remedy the situation, green space, mounding, and new landscaping will be added to Front Street to hide what many consider “unsightly,” the skill center. The back parking lot will be removed, also.
A new student and parent entry will be added on the east side of the school with improved passive security entry and access, an improved parent drop-off and new bus drop-off.
In addition, new ADA parking lots are to be constructed and the number of parking spaces increased. New lots are planned to improve parking during events, including football and basketball tournament games. Barriers will be implemented to discourage parking on the grass.
Phase II — classrooms
Construction site preparation for Phase II renovation occurs during February and March 2011. Implementation of new doors and windows along with renovation of 70 classrooms and nine science labs is scheduled to begin April 2011 and completed by September 2012. Classrooms are being renovated in sub-phases, 14 at a time. Site completion and renovation of the administrative offices is scheduled for the summer of 2012.
Hallway barriers not part of the original construction, created to add new classrooms, are to be removed. That will extend the hallways back to their original length and several classrooms will be returned to their original size.
Wings of the school are being renovated separately. In total, 15 swing spaces are needed. Because of teaching jobs eliminated by TPS, six classrooms in the field house will be available and utilized for swing space, so students will not have to be moved off the 27.2 acre site.
The technological upgrade includes 150 security cameras along with several television monitors located throughout the building. Every classroom will receive state-of-the-art digital video technology and a sound system with microphones teachers can wear. One room on each floor will be designated a computer hub complete with a mainframe and center for the video equipment.
Even the classroom locations will be reorganized, with separate wings created for different specialties. A fine arts wing will include two art rooms, a room for vocal music, and a room for instrumental music. This will give music students closer access to the 844-seat auditorium.
The Waite Alumni Association is planning fundraisers to renovate the 11,927 square foot auditorium, complete with balcony. Yenrick said the theater should get technological renovations, including sound and video systems from OSFC funds, plus structural improvements.
Administration will also be relocated. Yenrick will give up his current office — which has been the location of the school’s principal since its original construction. His current office and the attached secretarial office will become a classroom. Counselors will be relocated together on the first floor.
Each floor will have a new teacher’s lounge, required by contract with the teacher’s union, said Yenrick. Renovations to bathrooms and Grant Murray Field House are also scheduled.