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Project for New Schools

Last Updated: 5/6/2021 9:01 PM

Please note that information on construction start dates are preliminary and are subject to change. As the design phase and overall construction timeline continue to evolve, we will keep you informed through our e-newsletters, website and facebook page. Please check back often for the most current information. Should you have any questions, please contact Dawn Marzano, Director of Communications at 330-239-1901, ext. 1261 or via email at If you have any questions or concerns about activity occurring on the building site, please feel free to contact Construction Manager, Joe Swantek at 330-495-5225.

Sustainable Features will be used in Design of New Elementary BuildingsSustainable Features List
NOVEMBER 19, 2019 –  At the November 19 Board of Education meeting, Rodwell King of GPD Group, offered a presentation outlining the sustainable building practices that will be used in the construction of the three new elementary schools. GPD’s planning vision promotes sustainable solutions, interconnecting green spaces, incorporating stormwater management, utilizing native plantings, and connecting to the existing community network. One example, Mr. King offered, was addressing storm water runoff. “We use plantings as much as possible since they actually help to clean excess water runoff before it reaches the parking lot areas,” he explained. He also noted that parking lots will offer preferred spaces for electric cars in an effort to encourage that practice. Additionally, the architects have planned lighting so that it does not go beyond the school property lines and the carpeting and ceiling tiles that will be used in the construction of the buildings are made of high content recycled material.

Construction Update: Work continues at the new Granger Elementary site to establish the building pad and retention pond. It’s exciting to see the land area taking shape and the open space where the building will be constructed (see photos below). The Army Corps of Engineers has just recently granted approval so that earthwork can now begin on the Hinckley site, but we are still waiting for approval on the Sharon site. As stated in previous communication, this is part of an early site package focused on preparing the land for construction in 2020. Contractors will address major earthwork, grading and establishing the building pad. When earthwork is complete, the sites will go dormant through the winter months, and will then resume activity in early Spring of 2020.

In addition, roof repairs are now complete at Highland Middle School and work is progressing on the building’s HVAC system.

Renderings 7-16-19

Round 2: Building Design Renderings Presented
JULY 16, 2019 –  Next round building design renderings were presented by GPD Group at last evening's (7/15/19) Highland Board of Education meeting for the new Granger Elementary School, Hinckley Elementary School and Sharon Elementary School. (Please note these are not final and are subject to changes).

Granger Exterior
First Look ~ New Granger Elementary School
APRIL 15, 2019 – The Highland Local School District is excited to share the first rendering of the exterior of the new Granger Elementary School! At the April 15 Board of Education meeting, GPD Architects unveiled a preliminary conceptual rendering of the new 73,000 square-foot building, which will be located on Wilbur Road. The concept consists of red brick, light-colored gables and roof, and lots of natural light in the gymnasium. This is just a preview of the exciting future that lies ahead for our district! (Please note that this is a preliminary rendering. Aspects of the exterior are likely to be modified as the project continues to move forward).

Board Purchases Land for New Sharon Elementary School
MARCH 18, 2019 – The Highland Board of Education approved the purchase of two land parcels at the March 18 regular meeting for the site of the new Sharon Elementary School. Both properties, which total approximately 34 acres, are located on Ridge Road, slightly north of the current school on the west side of Route 94.

Also during the meeting, Rodwell King of GPD Architects, presented an update on the elementary building project and unveiled preliminary site plans and floor plans for the new Granger and Hinckley elementary schools. The project continues to move forward with all new elementary schools set to open in August 2021.

Presentation Overview:

  • Soil tests and land surveys have been completed on the new Wilbur Road site of Granger Elementary School. This 73,000 square feet building will house the district’s pre-school program, in addition to the K-5 program.
  • Soil tests and land surveys have been completed on the new Ridge Road site of Hinckley Elementary School and site work is underway. A comprehensive ODOT traffic study and drilling for the new water well have also been completed. This building is expected to be approximately 55,000 square feet.
  • Each school entry will offer a vestibule area with bulletproof glass and enhanced security measures.
  • Classrooms will offer flexible seating arrangements with additional collaborative learning spaces per grade level.
  • Separate bus and parent parking, as well as drop off/pick up loop has been designed.
  • Separate entrance for Latchkey and after-school activities.
  • Air conditioning throughout entire facility.

Highland Middle School Repairs

  • Roof scheduled to be repaired this summer.

Timeline Adjusted for New Elementary Schools
OCTOBER 15, 2018 -- At the October 15 regular Highland Board of Education meeting, Hammond Construction, the construction management team hired by the district for the new building project, made the recommendation to the Board that the timeline for completing the new elementary school buildings be pushed back one year. 

Several factors went into this decision, including:    

  • Property/land acquisition for the new Sharon Elementary School is still a work in progress, despite our best efforts (we are on our third attempt to acquire property).  As discussed previously, building on our current site is possible, but not ideal;
  • Important work continues with instructional/educational planning and design (collaborative space, media centers, classroom square footage);
  • Planning continues on how best to incorporate important safety and security features into the new designs while maintaining a warm and inviting child-centered learning environment; and
  • The goal remains to bid and build the entire project concurrently in order to leverage our resources and buying power.  If we bid each school project separately, it will ultimately cost more.  In addition, current market conditions are not ideal as the construction industry is over-saturated with work in this region.  Because of where we are in the property acquisition and design process, it creates a situation where we would be going out to bid at the worst possible time of the year for subcontractors.    

While the Board knows this is disappointing news, it is necessary. The great news, however, is that we are going to have wonderful new schools. We are just going to have them in 2021 instead of 2020. 

Renovations at Highland Middle School
AUGUST 28, 2018 -- The district was hoping to begin some work at the middle school during the summer of 2018. Unfortunately, the project is significantly more complicated than originally thought. After working with the architects and the construction managers, it was recommended that the timing be reconsidered to coincide with the overall elementary building project. Market conditions, economies of scale, availability of subcontractors all contributed to that recommendation. Each of the major renovation components and systems at HMS (air conditioning, security, lighting, roofing, parking lots) will now mostly likely be coordinated with the overall construction project. 

Board Approves Land Purchase for New Hinckley, Sharon Elementary Schools
JUNE 26, 2018 -- The Highland Board of Education approved the purchase of two land parcels at the June 25 regular meeting -- one for the new Hinckley Elementary School and the other for the new Sharon Elementary School. Both properties are located on Ridge Road.

The board approved spending $800,000 for the vacant Hinckley property (21.7 acres), located approximately one-half mile north of Route 303; and $645,519 for the Sharon property (48 acres), located approximately one mile south of Sharon Circle (the former Western Reserve Golf Course).

According to Superintendent Catherine Aukerman, “The Board's original intention was to build on or near our current sites. However, our current sites are less than perfect from a size perspective for new schools. Knowing these schools will serve the community for the next 50 years, the Board has worked to find land that is a better alternative to our current sites. Our elementary schools now sit on approximately 8 acres, whereas the OFCC recommends 16 acres for new elementary schools. While we could build on the current sites, it would not be optimal for separating bus traffic from parent traffic, for overall layout of buildings, etc. The ideal scenario is still to build all three schools simultaneously as that would give us the greatest economy of scale.” 

The architects and the construction management team have been on the property for new the Granger Elementary School, which was approved in May. This 90.47-acre parcel is located on Wilbur Road. They have been conducting soil tests and land surveys in preparation for construction. 

“We’ve already started the programming requirements and have had discussions with teachers about the important aspects of the interiors of the schools, number of sections and so on. It’s really been a collaborative effort with our staff and community to this point and we want to continue to involve the community and learn about what kind of schools do they envision.”

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 -- The Board of Education, superintendent, and staff share the communities concerns and expectations on safety and security. All new buildings will be equipped with state-of-of-the-art security measures, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Single point of entry for visitors
  • Vestibule/double entry system
  • Electronic access control at entrance
  • Video intercoms for visitor screening
  • Panic button in main office
  • Building design with improved lines of sight
  • Updated door hardware/locks
  • Perimeter fencing to deter trespassing and limit access

In addition, important security practices that we already use that will continue include:

  • ALICE Training, monthly safety drills (including lockdown, shelter in place, evacuation, fire, natural disasters, etc.) 
  • 24/7 Stay Safe, Speak Up Hotline
  • Video surveillance
  • Visitor management program
  • Staff monitoring of arrival and dismissal times
  • Situational awareness (alertness of staff)
  • Monitoring of social media sites
  • Strong working relationship with local law enforcement

Safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority.

JANUARY 3, 2018 -- With the passage of the $63 million bond issue in November 2017, our district is excited to welcome the new year as we embark on the planning process to replace our three aging elementary schools and undergo needed renovations to Highland Middle School.

Representatives from our design and engineering firm, GPD Group, led an initial educational visioning process with district staff on December 12. A cross-section of personnel from across the district represented each grade level and special area. This process was also held during January for key community members and parents who were an integral part of the Bond Issue Committee. (See photos)

Educational visioning is the first step in understanding and defining 21st century teaching and learning environments before moving forward with the design and construction of our new facilities. This process ultimately allows the staff, administration and community to explore ideas to better define a collective vision for the education of our students. 

At the December 18 Board of Education meeting, GPD Group announced that design work will begin in January 2018, with construction to commence the following year. Renovations and additions to HMS will possibly begin in May 2018 and include heating and air conditioning, roofing, electrical updates and site paving. 

GPD Group outlined that the Master Plan for the new elementary buildings will focus on four areas and include ESTABLISHING A VISION, NEW SPACES, CORE FEATURES and 21ST CENTURY LEARNING.

Below are some of the aspects that will be considered in the design phase of the process. 

Chart for new schools

Construction Updates



  • 11/07/17: Bond Issue Passes
  • 12/12/18: Educational Visioning Session for Highland Staff
  • 12/18/18: Board of Education Meeting
  • 1/03/18: Design Work Begins
  • 1/10/18: Educational Visioning Session for Community
  • 1/17/18: Educational Visioning Session for Community
  • 1/18/18: Superintendent & Curriculum Director attend “Future of Learning” seminar sponsored by KnowledgeWorks
  • 2/12/18: GPD Group Releases Educational Visioning Report (View Full Report)
  • 3/19/18: Board of Education approves purchase of land on Wilbur Road to be future site of new Granger Elementary School.
  • 4/18: GPD Group leads several meetings with key staff regarding Program of Requirements for new schools.
  • 5/18: GPD Group and superintendent visit and tour new school facilities in Strongsville, Cleveland and Columbus.
  • 6/18: Board approves purchase of land for future sites of new Sharon Elementary (with contingencies) and Hinckley Elementary buildings. 
  • 3/18/19: Board purchases 2 parcels of land for future site of new Sharon Elementary School.