Big Butler County school expansion projects seeing some delays: What to know

Credit: Journal News

Credit: Journal News

Three major Butler County school construction projects are continuing despite the coronavirus pandemic, but with some delays.

Two schools in Middletown – Rosa Parks Elementary and Marshall High School – are surrounded by construction work while the most expensive project, a $15 million expansion of Talawanda Schools' Marshall Elementary, is progressing but slightly behind schedule, school officials said.

Middletown Schools Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. recently visited the Rosa Parks campus to look over the $10 million expansion and said the project includes much more than simply adding classrooms space to the existing school.

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“This project here is about solving the overcrowding in our (other) elementaries and more importantly giving our kids opportunity to make their dreams come true,” said Styles. “This project is on schedule and we are on budget."

The school will have 13 additional classrooms, but its current learning spaces will also be dramatically remodeled to better accommodate new instructional approaches.

“We are looking at a late spring delivery of the project and we’re really excited about the academic spaces it will offer our students,” he said.

Rosa Parks will then begin to draw enrollment from throughout the 6,300-student district, reducing crowded elementary class sizes throughout the school system, Styles said.

Chuck Hall, director of the private, career tech Marshall High School, said grand opening of the school’s new wing has been moved to December.

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“Our construction addition has been delayed by one month. Completion is slated by Dec. 11,” said Hall.

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.

Marshall fills a vital niche, he said, in helping teens gain learning and training for quick access into the region’s job market after graduation.

“We at Marshall acknowledge the current disparity between job requirements and job seekers' qualifications, particularly in technology, healthcare, manufacturing and construction," Hall said. "Most of these jobs require some learning after high school.

“This expansion will provide our students the opportunity to acquire the necessary credentials or certificates to fill these positions. These positions are well paying sustaining jobs that will greatly enhance viability and the city of Middletown and this county."

Talawanda Schools Spokeswoman Holli Morrish, said the new two-story wing at Marshall Elementary has experienced some delays, making an exact move-in date unknown at this point.

“The wet weather has been tough on the schedule. The target date to complete construction is by the end of the summer 2021, but this could delay students moving into the building until after the start of our school year,” said Morrish.

“We are working with the experts to see where we can make up time in the schedule, but we do not have any specific times at the moment."

Modern learning often requires more space than the traditional classroom, she said, and the larger elementary will fill that need.

“During the past few decades teaching and learning has become so much more hands on and it’s important to have spaces designed for the kinds of interactive and experiential learning that takes place in a modern education environment,” she said.

“The new Marshall will provide these spaces and opportunities."

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