Students at Whitehall's Rosemore Middle School should have a little more elbow room in 2021 when the school's expansion is completed.

Whitehall school board members Dec. 12 approved a contract with Dunlop & Johnston Inc. of Valley City to construct the expansion for $5.46 million.

"We are hoping (to have it open) for the second half of the 2020-21 school year," said Ty Debevoise, director of communications and marketing for Whitehall schools.

The bid was one of six the district received for the project. The board also approved a $59,000 alternate bid to replace fire alarms within the existing school, Debevoise said.

A preconstruction meeting is expected within the next two to three weeks to discuss a timeline, identify subcontractors and mull such questions as how to work around students, Debevoise said.

"Right now, we are looking for an early spring groundbreaking," Debevoise said.

A new wing will be added to the existing Rosemore Middle School.

The school, 4800 Langley Ave., is 91,000 square feet with 32 typical classrooms; the expansion will add 28,000 square feet of space with eight typical classrooms, Debevoise said.

The expansion will add on to a school that opened in January 2012.

In 2008, Whitehall voters approved a 6.87-mill bond issue that triggered funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission toward the new construction of three elementary schools, a new middle school and a new high school.

Approval of the issue meant the state funded 61% of the $78 million project to rebuild all five schools.

The rebuilt Rosemore Middle School was designed for 652 students, yet enrollment has grown since 2012; this school year, 743 students attend Rosemore, Debevoise said.

With the addition, Rosemore will be designed to accommodate 858 students, he said.

Principal Rochelle Rankin said she is "super-excited" about the addition to the middle school and saying goodbye to crowded conditions.

"Most importantly, it will provide an opportunity for innovative learning spaces and alignment to our high school career pathways," she said.

"The addition will support educational spaces to dream big and achieve big."