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Designs Underway For Whitehouse Primary, Secured Entrances To Schools

This rendering of Fallen Timbers Middle School shows how a secure entryway will be created at the front of the building. All of the schools will receive new, safe entrances, marked with blue for consistency. RENDERING COURTESY OF SSOE

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Last fall, voters in the Anthony Wayne Local School District approved a 2.38-mill levy to pay for $44.2 million in capital improvements, renovations and new construction. During the June 28 board of education meeting, director of operations Matt Dick provided an update on plans for a new Whitehouse Primary School, secured entryways and other facilities upgrades. Architectural firm SSOE has nearly completed design work on the 15,000-square-foot operations building that will be located along SR 64/Centerville Street behind the bus parking area. The facility will house the grounds and maintenance shop, warehouse and receiving areas, technology storage and have bays for trucks. While that building design is complete, the architects are still fine-tuning plans for Whitehouse Primary, which will be located in the field northwest of the existing school. The 100-year flood plain surrounding the creek is small and doesn’t interfere with plans, but storm water regulations on a limited footprint are presenting some design challenges, Dick said. “Storm water runoff isn’t new, but it’s new to us. We haven’t done any major work in 20 years,” Dick said. The preliminary design shows a one-level building with a central reception and administrative area, upper elementary and lower elementary wings, a kindergarten and preschool section, gymnasium, open commons area and lunchroom.  At each of the existing buildings, secured entryways are designed with blue stripes in the façade to point the way for students, parents and visitors. “We wanted a unified design so that there’s a common entrance look so parents know where to go,” said Superintendent Dr. Jim Fritz. Visitors will need to enter into a secured area and speak with a staff member before gaining access to schools, Fritz said. At the high school and junior high, the entrance would be moved to the front the building. At Fallen Timbers Middle School, a small addition to the front of the existing office would meet that need. Monclova’s new entrance would be just north of the community room entryway. While Waterville Primary’s entrance can be converted without much change to the front, plans call for an addition to the southwest corner of the community room in order to add more classroom space, Dick said. The most dramatic renovations will take place to the back side of the high school, where a glassed-in addition will extend from the commons to create more cafeteria space. This will be linked at an angle to a new auxiliary gym with Title IX- and ADA-compliant locker rooms. The addition will take out the roadway behind the school and force a move of the baseball press box and concession stand either closer to home plate or third base. The current auxiliary gym will be split into an expanded weight and fitness area, with the other half serving as a multipurpose area that could be used for wrestling and other activities. The Burdo building, the current Operations Department home, will remain and be used for athletic and grounds equipment storage and baseball locker rooms and restrooms. In addition to a main entranceway at the junior high, another small entrance will be added to the current main doors, in order to give visitors to sporting events a path to access bleachers without walking through a game. Plans call for more parking and a change to traffic flow throughout the Finzel Road campus, with drop-off points near the new entryways. However, results to the traffic studies just wrapped up, and more discussion is needed, Fritz said. “We want to have parking lots started by late fall, but it depends on contractor availability,” Dick said. “We’re hearing it’s a very strong market now. Contractors are busy and are turning down bids.” So while the original timeline called for a fall groundbreaking for Whitehouse Primary, it makes more sense to bid in November or December when contractors are planning for 2018, Dick said. “We’re hoping to break ground in the spring,” he added. In the meantime, several improvement projects are underway in the district, including a new roof on Waterville Primary, electrical work at the middle school and drainage tile replacement at the junior high.

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