November 26, 2014

Elyria
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Avon school district releases concept drawings for new middle school

AVON — The first visual concepts for the city’s new $32 million middle school show a large, attractive red brick building with two-story wings to either side of a central, canopied entrance.

The drawings were released during a recent Board of Education meeting, according to Superintendent Mike Laub.

“These are essentially drafts at this point,” Laub said. “The footprint of the building may slightly change but I don’t anticipate any substantial changes in the design.”

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The community will get a chance to view the drawings at a public forum at the middle school on Stoney Ridge Road at 7:30 p.m. May 13.

“We’re making sure the building is designed to incorporate all the things necessary for the education of tomorrow and the future growth of the district,” Avon Middle School Principal Craig Koehler said.

Building plans for the 160,000-square-foot school are yet to be submitted to the city Planning Commission.

School personnel are working with the school’s architects, Lesko Architecture, a Cleveland firm, to bring plans into sharper focus, Koehler said.

The need for a new school has been increasing for years to ease overcrowding in what is regarded as the third-fastest-growing school system in Ohio, Laub said.

The existing middle school, which was built to hold 550 students, is projected to hold more than 720 seventh- and eighth-graders next year, Laub said.

Expected to be ready for the start of the 2015-16 school year, the new school will be home to 1,200 students in grades six, seven, and eight.

The district’s sixth-grade classes will be moved to the new building from Heritage North Elementary, which presently houses sixth-graders.

“That will relieve the stress on the Heritage campus,” Laub said.

Enrollment has been growing by nearly 200 pupils a year for the past several years, officials said.

The new school will include a pair of two-floor academic wings containing classrooms and learning labs, as well as a roomy, high-ceiling cafeteria and a double gym at one end of the building.

“The gyms will be attached and give it a fieldhouse look,” Koehler said.

Other features include a state-of-the-art library.

“It’s going to be a very functional building, one that the city will be very proud of,” Koehler said.

The new middle school will also lead to relocation of about 400 kindergarten, preschool and special-needs students from the aging, three-story Village Elementary School on Detroit Road to the current one-story middle school building.

The district is in the process of retrofitting the middle school to accommodate the needs of students who will attend classes there once the new building is open, Koehler said.

Those measures include installing new restroom fixtures and making other changes to convert facilities to be handicapped-accessible, Koehler said.

The new middle school will be paid for through a no-new-tax-rate bond issue approved by voters last November that restructures the district’s bond debt and enables homeowners to continue paying the same 5.3 mills they have been paying for a $12.9 million, 25-year bond issue approved in 1996 to build the city’s new high school.

The 1996 bond issue decreased over time to 5.3 mills as the amount owed was spread among the city’s growing population, according to Avon Schools Treasurer Kent Zeman.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.