New Albany News

Summer vacation

$146K of school building improvements on tap


The New Albany-Plain Local school board on July 8 approved spending up to $146,000 to make improvements to all four school buildings and the administrative office this summer.

Significant additions at the New Albany K-1 and 2-5 elementary schools include secure vestibules that require visitors to enter through the office.

"It will increase the safety for students," said Michael Sawyers, the district's chief of operations and strategic development.

The main office will have to be relocated in both buildings.

Also at the K-1 building, the district will remove the winding metal staircase in the K-1 library because students don't use it, said Laura Kohler, school board president.

At the 2-5 building, playground equipment must be moved for construction of the new school building between the 2-5 building and New Albany Middle School.

Funding to move the equipment will come from the construction budget, Kohler said. The new building and site improvements will be funded by a $45.1-million, 2.59-mill bond issue local voters approved last November.

The cafeteria for the high school and middle school also is scheduled for improvements with funds from the food service budget, Kohler said.

Serving stations will be expanded and the seating area will be remodeled so that students no longer will sit at long tables in "cafeteria-style" seating, Sawyers said.

"We're increasing the flexibility of the seating and changing the dining experience for kids," Sawyers said. "It will be like a cross between Chipotle, Barnes and Noble and Panera."

Superintendent April Domine said students will be able to sit at a booth or small tables.

Sawyers said the changes also increase the use of the space for meetings and other events that include adults.

Other improvements at the middle school and high school will increase classroom space.

Sawyers said two computer laboratories and a book storage room on the second floor of the middle school will be renovated into classroom space.

At the high school, two language rooms will be converted to science rooms and a workroom will become a classroom to accommodate the large number of incoming freshmen, he said.

Sawyers said the freshman class is expected to be the largest in the high school's history.

Several storage spaces and any extra spaces in the school wings also could be converted into student-intervention rooms, according to the district's plan.

At the administrative office, the district will remove barriers from the communications department so the three employees can share a single space, Kohler said.

Sawyers said the district also plans to paint as needed throughout the district buildings.

He said the district has an aggressive timeline for the improvements, with fewer than 40 days until the start of the 2013-14 school year on Aug. 19.