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Published: Wednesday, 3/13/2002

Island school adds modern touches

`We want everything up-to-date,' says Superintendent James Stauffer, with plans for the $1.4 million school project. `We want everything up-to-date,' says Superintendent James Stauffer, with plans for the $1.4 million school project.
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PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - The Put-in-Bay Local School District will begin construction Monday on an addition that will bring its 81-year-old classroom building into the 21st century.

Superintendent James Stauffer said yesterday the $1.4 million project will add 8,000 square feet and seven classrooms to the school, which has been expanded twice since it opened in 1921.

The work is to be completed by Aug. 26 for the start of the 2002-03 school year.

The red-brick building reached its current size, 30,000 square feet, with the addition of four classrooms and a library in 1983 and a gymnasium in 1991. The latest addition will include a multipurpose room, new plumbing, a sprinkler system, an elevator, and the building's first central air conditioning system.

The school opened in 1921 and had additions in 1983 and 1991. The school opened in 1921 and had additions in 1983 and 1991.
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“When we are finished with this project, we want everything up-to-date,” Mr. Stauffer said. “We want to make sure we're ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant, we want to make sure we're fire-protected, we want to be air conditioned.”

The superintendent said the project will ease crowding in the building, which has 105 students from preschool to high school.

Some classes are held in a double-wide trailer next door. To reach its three classrooms, “kids have to go outside, no matter what the weather,” Mr. Stauffer said.

Because of a classroom shortage, several subjects are taught in the same rooms. Reading, art, and language arts classes share one room; another room is used as a computer lab and for online and social studies classes.

Kindergarten and preschool classes are conducted in the gymnasium, “which is certainly not an ideal situation,” Mr. Stauffer said.

When the expanded school opens this fall, it will have separate sections for primary (grades K-2), elementary (3-6), and middle and high school students (7-12). “Even though we're one big building, we'll have separation,” he said.

The district, which levies only the state-mandated 20 mills for operations, saved money over the years for the construction work. The project is receiving no state funds. “The board's been doing a good job of saving money and putting it in a [permanent improvement] account. Having been on the mainland as a superintendent for a few years, this is certainly a great way to be,” said Mr. Stauffer, who headed Madison Plains schools near Columbus for eight years.

The Put-in-Bay School, which was built for $23,850, is a community landmark, and Mr. Stauffer said the district didn't consider replacing it. The project's contractor, Michael DiMaio & Associates of Fairlawn, Ohio, found red brick for the addition that matches the original brick. “The new project will really tie everything in together,” Mr. Stauffer said. “All the rooflines will now be one roofline. It'll really just make the building look complete.”

The district will mark the project's start with a groundbreaking at 1 p.m. March 23. Scheduled speakers include Mr. DiMaio, Superintendent Bill Lally of the Erie, Ottawa, Huron Educational Service Center, and Put-in-Bay Mayor John Blatt.

The renovated school will be a source of community pride, the mayor said. “This needed to be done,” he said. “They're working out of temporary buildings. It's overcrowded, and it's time to face up to it, and they're facing up to it magnificently.”

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