Franklin High School nearing completion: ‘An absolutely beautiful space’

Students will begin classes in the new $48 million building March 4

Franklin City Schools recently announced that the new $48 million Franklin High School will open on Monday, March 4. The Board of Education will hold a dedication ceremony and open house at the new facility located at 136 E. Sixth Street on Saturday, March 2.

“The building design was a collaboration among the board, administration, high school staff and the public, and we’re excited for everyone to see how their ideas have come to life,” said Superintendent Michael Sander. “It’s an absolutely beautiful space that will be a wonderful learning environment for our students.”

Sander said he could not imagine how beautiful the building turned out from the construction drawings. “It’s unbelievable,” he said.

Sander said transitioning from the current high school on East Fourth Street to the new one will involve high school students learning remotely for two weeks. Grades 9-12 will be remote from Feb. 20 through March 1. He said more transition details will be announced closer to that time.

On a recent hard-hat tour of the new high school, the first thing that people experience is the large amount of natural light through the many windows. The building has its events/extracurricular area complete with a new gym, as well as an auxiliary/practice gym.

There’s a new band room that is one-third larger than the current band room and with much more room for storage, a chorus room and practice rooms. The building has a training room, a weight room, physical education and team locker rooms, a health classroom, and a large lobby area complete with new trophy cases.

Sander said new video scoreboards will be installed at each end of the new gym, a donation from the family of NBA basketball star and Franklin High School alumnus Luke Kennard. However, due to supply chain delays, the new gym will not be used until air handlers arrive and get installed. Sander said athletic events won’t be held in the new gym until the start of the 2024-2025 school year.

Another feature of the gym is that the concession stand is adjacent to the school cafeteria, which is much larger than the current cafeteria. There is also a ticket office window on the west side of the building where the athletic offices are located. This way, people won’t have to enter the building to purchase tickets. There is also a canopy where people can be shielded from the elements.

Also on that side of the building is the administration and guidance offices, a clinic, and a security vestibule. There are also offices for the school resource officer, a staff lounge and conference rooms. Sander said there are no keys, as everything opens with swipe cards.

The rest of the building features two floors of classrooms that include specialized career tech, science and drama classrooms. In addition, there is a courtyard inside the building walls that can be used for outdoor performances, studying, and classes.

The new building pays homage to the former Franklin High/Junior High that once stood in that place with the banding around the windows which have a difference in the brick coloring.

“Franklin’s kids deserve this building, which will be the center of community pride,” he said. “This is a first-class building that meets the needs of students and teachers.”

A new pedestrian bridge connecting the building to the new parking lot will be rededicated to Bob Hannum, a Franklin football player who died from an injury sustained in a game with Miamisburg in 1946. Sander said a plaque will be installed on the bridge.

The new high school is the first of the district’s new classroom facilities to open. The construction project was possible through voter passage of a bond issue in 2020 for the new high school, the renovation of the current high school into a middle school for grades 6-8, and three new elementary schools. The state of Ohio is paying 57% of the district’s $130 million construction project.

“It’s fantastic,” said Katrina Hillard, the district’s former assistant treasurer who has three children attending Franklin Schools. “There was a lot of work and community involvement. There are going to be a lot of happy students, people, teachers and staff. Everyone had a hand in this.”

“I think its great,” said Tyler Leonard, district payroll coordinator. “It’s well thought out and the community deserves this. I’m glad the kids will get to experience it.”

The state funding for the new Gerke, Schenck and Hunter elementary buildings is expected to be released in 2027, according to district and state officials.

The bond issue covers local initiatives such as constructing a new bus garage, moving the central office into the new high school building, installing gas and other utility lines, and the demolition of Hampton Bennett School for a new student parking lot.

Sander said once the new high school opens, the district will be tearing down some houses and the former Save-a-Lot grocery that are adjacent to the property. The district purchased the properties prior to the start of construction.

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