After two years of attending classes in a leased facility of about 53,000-square-feet on Tracy Road, Lake High School students will – in about two weeks – be walking the halls of an energy-efficient school nearly triple that size.
Lake administrators and school board members opened the new building for tours to the news media Wednesday and to the public on Sunday (Aug. 5).
The first day of school for students is Aug. 21.
After a June 2010 tornado destroyed the former high school building, the board set two goals, said Tim Krugh, board president.
“We wanted to have the new building open within two years,” he said. “We were afraid if it were longer we would lose students. And we wanted to do it without taxpayer dollars.”
The new building covers about 144,500 square feet and costs about $25.5 million, including $21 million from the district’s insurance settlement, a little more than $4 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, and $500,000 the district won in the Kohl’s Cares Contest.
On the district’s website and in person, board members and administrators have been stressing that local tax revenues weren’t used to construct the new building.
Doug Nale, project manager for Rudolph Libbe, said that although the new building is a few thousand square feet larger than the former high school and is air conditioned, high-efficiency heating, air conditioning, and lighting systems will result in lower operating costs.
Students who drive to school will enter from a parking lot west of the school that leads to a two-story glass atrium that spans the length of the building. Buses will drop students off at the east end of the building.
The academic wing is on the east end of the building on two floors and laid out in four sections for each grade level.
A media center is located on the second floor of the wing and as of last week, administrators were waiting for about $10,000 worth of books that were on order to fill the center’s shelves.
Jim Witt, district superintendent, said the “biggest upgrades” of the academic facilities in the building are the science and art classrooms.
The layout of the science rooms in the former building separated the lab stations from the rest of the room.
In the new building the “lab and coursework will be intertwined,” said Jodi Takats, curriculum director.
The buildings exterior doors are numbered and the ceiling soffits in each of the academic wing’s sections are painted different colors to make it easier for identification during an emergency.
The building also features an arena style gym with a 94-foot basketball court and an auditorium that can seat more than 500.
One cafeteria will provide lunches for high school and middle school students, who will eat in a multi-purpose room that also can be used for basketball and volleyball and is equipped with netting dividers for batting cages.
Office space for the district’s administration and the high school administration sits on each side of the east entrance.
“I feel like we’ve really made efficient use of our space,” Witt said, adding much of the office furniture was salvaged from the old building.
Prior to conducting the media tour of the new high school, the school board in a special meeting approved a one-year contract with the Lake Education Association, the union representing the district’s teachers.
Jeff Carpenter, treasurer, said the new agreement freezes wages and raises the cap on employees health insurance contributions from $80 per month for family coverage to $113.
Under the agreement, with no step pay increases or increases in the base salary as well as no increases for someone who attains a higher educational degree, the district will save about $180,000 a year, Carpenter said, including the higher insurance contributions by teachers.
The new contract expires July 31, 2013.