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7 Butler County school construction projects not stopped by coronavirus concerns

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Despite Coronvirus millions of dollars of school construction moving ahead.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

As the coronavirus slows almost all summer break school activities, construction of new school campus additions is still speeding along.

Districts are taking advantage of not having to schedule building crews around the usual summer school classes, sports practices and other activities put on hold as a safety measure.

And in the thinnest of silver linings, school officials said in one way the onset of the threat of the coronavirus in March helped them get a jump on planned campus construction.

One of the largest projects is the $15 million expansion of Talawanda Schools’ Marshall Elementary, which will add a two-story wing to the school that first opened in 1968 and has expanded twice.

“We are keeping the gymnasium and attaching it to the new facility because this was added in the mid-2000′s,” said Holli Morrish, spokeswoman for Talawanda.

“Modern education uses technology, group learning scenarios, more critical thinking and the spaces in which we do this can often be more open. I am certain the new school will be as amazing as Bogan and Kramer when completed,” said Morrish referencing other more modern elementary schools in the district.

The new school configuration is scheduled to be done by August 2021.

In Middletown Schools, another school expansion is planned to open the same month as work is ahead of schedule on a $10 million expansion of the Rosa Parks Elementary campus.

The school will have 13 additional classrooms, but its current learning spaces will also be dramatically remodeled to better accommodate a new instructional approach — Challenge Based Learning — the district plans to install there.

Rosa Parks will then begin to draw enrollment from throughout the 6,400-student district, reducing crowded elementary class sizes throughout the school system, officials said.

Across the city the private, career tech Marshall High School is undergoing its own summer expansion work. The new space will allow Marshall’s current enrollment of 275 high school students – most from Middletown and elsewhere in Butler County – to expand to 350 when the new learning space opens in October.

In Carlisle, demolition continues on the old high school, which will soon be replaced soon by a $49 million, pre-K through 12 school building. The school is scheduled to open on Sept. 8 as the district delayed its usual August start of classes to accommodate the final stages of preparation for the new building.

Badin High School in west Hamilton is the only Catholic high school in Butler County, and its students will have access to a $2 million Student Development Center when classes resume in mid-August. It will add 8,000 square feet for the school’s 620 students.

And not all the construction is for more classroom space, as Edgewood High School is seeing the finishing touches on its first healthcare center.

Given the current health concerns, the timing couldn’t be better, said Edgewood Schools Superintendent Russ Fussnecker of the 3,200-square-foot center, which is the first in the district’s history.

“It will be ready when everyone returns to school this fall. We are excited to offer medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health services to our students and staff while they are at school,” said Fussnecker.

“Even more exciting is the opportunity to offer these services to those who don’t have access to this type of care, especially in today’s environment. This is a great addition for the families in our district,” he said.

At Lakota West High School, thousands of area students, families and resident prep sports fans are going to be greeted by the school’s newest and colorful campus addition.

Work is finishing soon on the school’s new, $140,000 stadium entrance and ticket booth.

“It brightens up the campus and provides a great deal of pride,” said Scott Kaufman, athletic director for Lakota West.

“On the event management side, it will allow for more ticket lines that will run smoother. It will also help keep lines out of the driveway and reduce the stress on the officers and traffic control,” he said.