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Bulldozers clear path for new schools

Final plans for the more than $40 million Rock Hill building projects are completed and students are well on their way to state-of-the-art schools, district officials said Friday.

Saturday, October 30, 1999

Final plans for the more than $40 million Rock Hill building projects are completed and students are well on their way to state-of-the-art schools, district officials said Friday.

In a special meeting Oct. 12, Rock Hill Board of Education members approved the final versions of plans for a new high school and the new, consolidated elementary school presented by Triad Architects Inc.

"After several trips to Columbus and in talking with representatives of Gil Bane and the Ohio School Facilities Commission, we were able to work through all the problems and reach a point where the board could approve the plans," superintendent Lloyd Evans said. "We expect to move quickly through the construction document phase and the bid phase."

The high school and elementary school sites now have signs announcing the official starting point of the visible parts of the projects.

A ground-breaking ceremony is planned in November to allow the community to mark the occasion. Date and time for the event will be announced later.

Last year, the state controlling board approved more than $30.8 million from the state Building Assistance Fund, which will be combined with the local contribution of about $3.8 million, to build two new schools and remodel a third in the Rock Hill School District.

With this money, the district will construct a new high school and a new consolidated elementary and remodel the existing high school building to house middle school students.

District voters passed the 4.28-mill levy, which will provide the 3.78 mills of matching funds and the 0.5 mill required for maintenance of the new and remodeled structures, in the 1998 November general election.

The money is paid to the district by the controlling board in quarterly allotments that match the coming quarter’s projected expenses.

Technology, aesthetically pleasing designs, and room for the district to grow by leaps and bounds are just a few of the plans for the 114,000-square-foot high school and the 135,000-square-foot elementary school.

"The high school is going to be constructed to house 690 students and the elementary will be constructed to house 1,138 students," Evans said. "Along with the classrooms, the high school will have an academic area that is two stories, a large cafetorium and a gymnasium on one end that will be top-loading – the audience will enter at the top of the bleachers and walk down to get to the seats."

Upon completion, the new elementary school will include several school units linked by common areas, an innovative design for the area, he added.

"The elementary is a one-story building that has separate wings for each of the different grade levels," Evans said. "In actuality, it will wind up being operated as six individual schools built around special central areas, like a library, cafeteria and the like."

Behind the elementary, the heavily wooded area of the site will be developed and utilized as nature trails and a nature study area.

These schools will combine the new with the old, giving students technological and communications options, as well as specialized courses, that aren’t available in the current buildings. But, they also will provide vast improvements in the more standard areas with first-class science facilities, expanded and improved home-economics divisions and larger, more learning-conducive environments, officials said.

In addition, bulldozers already are clearing land for the multi-purpose sports field that is not part of the overall project, Evans said.

"The project money does not cover the outdoor sports facilities, but this is something that the board said they would do for the district, and that is already beginning," he said.

With all the varying areas of the building projects, visible progress is just a few short steps away, Evans said.

"We’re really very close to going to work – things are very close to happening," he said. "We hope to start construction at the end of January."