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Community News

Public weighs in on new high school design

9/26/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — “It is your project. It is your school,” said Rodwell King, senior project manager of Akron’s GPD Group, to those who gathered for a community meeting Sept. 19 at Coventry High School. “What do you want your school to be?”

King gave a presentation to about 75 Coventry Local School District residents concerning the GPD Group’s involvement in the process to construct a ninth- through 12th-grade high school at the current site of Erwine Intermediate School.

Superintendent Russell Chaboudy explained a selection team recently choose the GPD Group to serve as the design architect for the high-profile project.

Chaboudy said the Board of Education has begun working with GPD Group to create an educational facility fit for the district.

King said he also recently sat down with teachers and staff members to learn their wishes for the new school.

The community meeting was held so the GPD Group could gather additional feedback before beginning the drawings for the school.

King stated the district is using the design-build process for the construction of the school, with the process including a schematic design phase, building design development, construction, groundbreaking and then a building dedication.

He said this process involves the high school administration, key building leaders, teachers, parents and the community.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Coventry to create a 21st-century, technology-rich learning environment,” King said.

The new building is being designed with 732 students in mind, he said.

According to King, the high school could include classrooms and labs, special education areas, administration offices, a media center, visual arts center, music rooms, technology education space, family and consumer science area, physical education space, student dining area, custodial closets and offices for building services.

He said the state requires a “typical” classroom to be 900 square feet.

King would like the new school to include a lot of natural lighting, which produces a conducive learning environment for students and saves on electricity. He explained the building also should use colors to make the facility a place in which students and teachers would thrive.

King told the audience that creating a pattern for traffic around the high school will be a challenging task, as safe areas must be identified for school buses, cars, pedestrians, staff parking and visitors.

According to King, a design-build team will be selected in about four months. Then, six months will be spent designing the facility and about 20 more months will be needed to complete the construction phase.

Community members expressed their opinions concerning a single or multi-story building, as well as their desire to see a slideshow in the future featuring possible design concepts.

King would like the community to channel ideas to the school administration, which can pass it along to the GPD Group.

District officials said a construction page, accessible from the district website, could be created soon to keep the community updated on the process and collect design suggestions.

“The district is moving forward in a positive manner,” Chaboudy said.

Coventry area voters approved Issue No. 5, a 5.99-mill levy and bond issue, on the May 7 Primary/Special Election ballot. Passage of the levy and bond issue allowed the district to receive $11 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) (this is now part of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) for a $39.3 million construction and renovation project in the district. The ninth- through 12th-grade high school and gymnasium will be constructed through the levy/bond issue and funds provided by the OSFC. The present high school will be transformed into an elementary school for the district’s kindergarten through fifth-grade students, complete with numerous upgrades, as well.

The community meeting can be viewed at www.coventryschools.org. Chaboudy said a future community meeting will be scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Kiwanis Civic Center and one more evening meeting also would be announced soon.

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