MILLBURY, Ohio —Lake Local Schools officials today proudly toured their new high school with members of the media.
The glistening new facility replaces the building that was mostly destroyed by a tornado in June, 2010.
The 144,000-square foot building cost $25.5 million, none of which came from local taxpayers. It features 28 classrooms and will house 450 students when classes start Aug. 21.
“Our goal was to have it done by August of 2012, and do it without taxpayer dollars. We’ve accomplished that,” said Board of Education President Tim Krugh.
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Located on the Lemoyne Road campus in Lake Township next to the middle school, the high school has a new auditorium with state-of-the art acoustics, four science labs, and a new gym with bleachers on all sides in an arena-style arrangement.
Dave Shaffer, the district’s athletic director and director of building and grounds, said the auditorium constitutes the biggest single upgrade compared to the old high school.
“It’s really the crown jewel of the whole building,” said Mr. Shaffer, who oversaw the construction project.
The auditorium seats 517 and was influenced by the theaters at the nearby Penta Joint Vocational School and Woodward High School. Lake officials toured both of these and then added their own touches, explained Dan Tabor, the architect from the Collaborative Inc. who designed the structure.
“It always helps to look at the benchmarks and compare notes,” he said.
The old school’s auditorium also served as the gym, Mr. Shaffer said, and “wasn’t much of an auditorium.”
The science labs are universal and can be used for any discipline such as chemistry, physics, or biology. Officials decided this was the way to go for maximum flexibility. The lab stations have adjustable tables that can power up or down.
The gym’s arena-style seating will allow students and adults to sit apart, Lee Herman, the high school principal, said.
“At games, kids can behave in ways that are totally appropriate but that adults don’t like,” he explained.
The principal said he had been putting in long days getting the building ready for students.
“The whole process is kind of a labor of love. They don’t teach you these things in grad school. But it’s been nice creating a new building out of the devastation,” he said.
In a special meeting before the tour, the school board approved a contract that freezes teachers’ pay and increases their medical insurance cost.
The one-year teachers’ contract was adopted less than a week before Lake voters decide on a 6.75-mill request for an operating levy officials say they need to stay out of the red in the 2012-13 year and avoid more layoffs.
It raises the cost of family coverage to $113 a month from $80, imposes a pay freeze, and will trim the school system’s costs by $180,000. Lake Treasurer Jeff Carpenter described the new agreement as “a considerable financial benefit to the district.” Teacher salaries range from $31,600 to $70,500.
As a precaution, the school board also approved asking the Wood County Auditor to certify the same levy amount for the November ballot in case voters reject the tax request on Tuesday.