NEW YEAR BRINGS MASTER PLAN FOR NEW SCHOOLS
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.
SAFETY & SECURITY MEASURES:
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.
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 Granger Elementary School, which was approved in May and located on Wilbur Road, and 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.”
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.