Four years from now, the corner of North Breiel Boulevard and Manchester Road will look totally different and will be the hub for educational and community events, district officials said.
By 2019, Middletown High School is expected to be renovated and a new 135,000-square-foot middle school, located just south of MHS, should be built.
The school projects are estimated to cost $96 million and are being co-funded by Middletown residents who passed a $55 million bond issue and a 0.26-mill permanent improvement levy last year. But that $55 million bond was reduced to $45 million, saving taxpayers $10 million. The rest of the co-funding will come from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission, said Treasurer Randy Bertram.
George Long, the district’s business manager, made a presentation at Monday night’s school board meeting and when he unveiled drawings of the middle and high schools, he warned they were only “preliminary images.”
Then he added: “Things will change.”
He said after the exterior plans are finalized, district leaders will meet with teachers and staff to get their input on how the interior should be designed. He expects those plans to be finalized by the end of the school year. Ground could be broken one year from now, he said, saying most of the early work will be behind the scenes.
The middle school and sports arena could be open by December 2017, and the high school, two years later, Long said. He said some of the construction will take place during the school year.
The high and middle schools will be separated by 37 feet, but eventually, there will be a connector to make it easier for students to pass from one school to the other, he said. Long said if the schools were connected in the original plans, the district would lose significant funding from the OSFC because it would be considered one project instead of two.
Middletown High School will feature what Long called “learning pods” where students will be instructed by six to eight teachers. The students will remain in their pods for the entire school year, something Long said will create a better learning environment.
There will be major upgrades to the auditorium and music rooms, the art and STEM programs, he said. There will be an area for visitors to be dropped off in front of the performing arts center, and that area will be used during school hours to drop off those students with disabilities, he said.
Most of the renovations will be done to the front of the high school and will create “a complete new look,” Long told board members.
When designing the middle school, Long said, it was important it not be considered “the stepchild of the high school.” Both of the schools will have similar looks, he said, and there will be planters, trees, and picnic tables located throughout the campuses.
With the building of a gymnasium in the middle school, a 2,300-seat arena, and Paul Walker Gym in the high school, there will be three sports facilities on the campus. Long said that will give the district the opportunity to host larger sporting events and generate revenue for the city. There also will be a weight room, wrestling room and track located near the arena and space in the buildings to showcase the school’s athletic and academic accomplishments, Long said.
Long said none of the sports facilities have been named and the district is forming a historical committee to consider potential rights. Long joked that he wouldn’t touch the naming rights issue “with a 10-foot pole.”
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