New Albany-Plain Local school board members April 14 visited the construction site of the new school building between the 2-5 elementary building and New Albany Middle School.

New Albany-Plain Local school board members April 14 visited the construction site of the new school building between the 2-5 elementary building and New Albany Middle School.

They stopped by just a few hours before the New Albany Architectural Review Board approved the district's request to change the high school parking lot.

The two-story, 150,000-square-foot building will be for 1,200 students in grades 2-8. It will have more open space inside for teachers and students to collaborate on projects and it includes different types of teaching areas, such as mini-labs and a rooftop garden.

School board President Mark Ryan said board members could see the differences and get a feel for how open the space is as they walked through the building.

"It's definitely more open than the other buildings, which was the goal," Ryan said.

Board member John McClelland called the new facility "impressive" and said it is interesting to compare it the 2-5 elementary building, which is roughly the same size.

"Thinking about the 1,200 kids who will be in here eventually, that's what gets me excited," McClelland said.

Board member Mike Klein agreed.

"I think about the kids and the opportunities they are going to have through the years as they come and go ... in this building," Klein said.

Superintendent April Domine wore a smile during the tour, even when trying to navigate the skinny set of metal stairs providing temporary access to the second floor until the permanent staircases are in place.

"It's amazing to see the whole vision come to life," Domine said. "I can see the walls and I can see kids in here. It's going to be a very exciting educational space."

District officials have said the new building should handle projected growth through the 2020-21 school year.

They expect to open 12 classrooms in the new building by the start of the 2014-15 school year and the rest by January.

The district is using funds from a $45.1 million, 2.59-mill bond issue local voters approved in November 2012 to finance the construction.

The district also received a $1.5 million grant from the New Albany Community Foundation, $1 million of which was donated by Leslie and Abigail Wexner and the rest by an anonymous donor.

The project includes a separate gymnasium and several site upgrades to improve traffic flow on the campus.

The New Albany Architectural Review Board on April 14 unanimously approved upgrades to the New Albany High School parking lot.

Kevin Harrison of the Harrison Planning Group said the improvements are designed to prevent cars from stacking on Fodor Road when school is in session.

He said the plan is to require cars picking up and dropping off students to enter the lot at the main entrance off Fodor Road, the one closest to Dublin-Granville Road.

Motorists would have to turn right (south) in the parking lot and follow the loop where it turns north again. That north stretch in front of the mini-theater will be modified to include two lanes.

Cars then would be funneled north to the exit from the student parking lot in front of the football stadium, or they could continue south through the student parking lot and exit at the main entrance.

ARB members requested the district use proper signs to direct the vehicles.

The district's plans originally removed the driving loop around the large median west of the gymnasium at the main entrance to the lot and reserved those lanes for emergency vehicles only. The plans included four-inch-high curbs that would discourage cars from traveling around the median loop, which fills with cars when parents are waiting to pick up children.

ARB members requested the plan be changed to remove the curbs so parents could use parts of the loop after school hours.

The ARB also agreed to let the district add more parking spaces south of the high school parking lot and north of the stormwater retention pond, which is not part of the district's plans at this time.