October 30, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
48°F

Schools take shape

Allison Wood | The Gazette

MONTVILLE TWP. — Three months before classes begin at Ralph E. Waite Elementary School, construction is wrapping up and contractors are busy finishing the playground and installing plumbing fixtures.

The gymnasium floor also must be installed, and parking lots for bus and car drop-offs must get paved.

“It’s basically a big box,” Jon Burkhart, director of business affairs for Medina City Schools, said during a tour of the construction site Friday.

The building, which can be seen from the intersection of state routes 3 and 162, is one of two new elementary schools. Eliza Northrop Elementary, which is identical in design to Waite Elementary, is located on East Reagan Parkway in Medina.

Each building, which will house kindergarten through grade five, is 71,000 square feet and will house up to 650 students. Both schools are scheduled to be completed by mid-July, Burkhart said.

The classrooms, which will be grouped by grade in three different “pods,” are located on the buildings’ edges, while common areas such as the gymnasium and cafeteria, will be in the middle.

Along with coat hooks, a sink and bookcases, each room will have an LCD projector so teachers can show students PowerPoint presentations, Web sites or DVDs onto dry-erase boards.

There will be four classrooms for each grade level, along with separate special education classrooms and other rooms for small student groups. Each grade’s section of the hall will be a different color, Burkhart said, to help younger students know their area.

What makes these new buildings better than others in the district are safety procedures and the use of energy-efficient systems, he said.

Visitors will be prohibited from entering the front lobby without signing in at the office, located next to the front door, Burkhart said. The buildings also will have two parking lots — one for buses and one for other vehicles.

The installation of triple-pane windows, motion-sensitive lighting systems and the use of fluorescent light bulbs help make the buildings as energy-efficient as possible, he said.
Burkhart said 11 other schools in the state have the same design, including several in the Olentangy Local School District in Delaware County where Burkhart previously worked.

“All the bugs have been worked out of it,” said Burkhart, since slight improvements were made with each new building. “It’s a compact, efficient design where there’s no wasted space.”

He said the district has tried to use durable materials, such as having tile instead of carpeting in classrooms and installing portable walls in classrooms so teachers can have separate areas for team-teaching.

Waite’s main entrance, located on Cobblestone Park Drive off Route 3, will open in August.

Currently, construction crews have to enter the building off Poe Road or Route 162 and drive through a housing development.

A traffic light will be installed at Route 3 and Cobblestone Park Drive to help with traffic. Although the light will not be installed until next year, Burkhart said Montville Township police will assist with traffic control before and after school.

The township also is planning to construct baseball fields around the school, he said.

At Northrop Elementary, the installation of extra turn lanes on East Reagan Parkway will help with the increased traffic in the area, he said.

The cost of the schools’ construction, about $20 million, was funded through revenues from a county sales tax increase voters approved in 2007.

Contact Allison Wood at (330) 721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.