Chesapeake breaks ground on new elementary school

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 24, 2003

CHESAPEAKE - Thursday, the work done by Chesapeake school officials and voters finally paid off.

However, a smaller group of people will also reap the benefits.

Ground was broken on the new Chesapeake Elementary building yesterday at the site of the school's old building, which has been torn down to make room for the new one. This year, the elementary school has been housed in the former middle school building which is on the same campus as the high school, new middle school, board office and athletic facilities.

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"The kids won today," Principal Jack Finch said.

Voters rejected the first levy for the building, but later approved a second, Finch said. After this, the community began to really believe in the project.

Chesapeake Superinten-dent Sam Hall said the target date for work to begin is in early September. The site work will begin first, which will entail putting down parking lots and placing utility lines within six feet of where the building will be so they will be ready to attach when the building is constructed. Through the process, school leaders will be meeting with officials from the Ohio School Facilities Commission monthly, if not more frequently, Hall said.

One challenge in the construction has been the budget. When the building process began, the new building was over budget. Now, it is under budget. Hall said changes such as taking out offsets in the building and moving an elevator shaft - changes that did not destroy much of the plans - reduced the cost.

The OSFC will pay 85 percent of the cost, and the district will pay 15 percent, Hall said. The site preparation will cost approximately $200,000. No bid has been awarded for the building itself, but may be bid in July, Hall said.

Features of the new building include a gymnasium and cafeteria in different areas and an open-air room in which kindergarten students can play, Hall said.

The new building will also help with traffic concerns for the district. With all buildings and facilities in one area, the Chesapeake schools have been congested. The high school and elementary school being in the same area also add to problems, Hall said, because many high school students drive and more parents transport children to and from school at the elementary school. When the new school is ready, the current elementary building will be torn down to make room for new parking, which will not only be useful during school hours, but also during athletic events, Hall said.

Finch said the new building could be finished by Christmas 2004, and he anticipates that it will be a nice Christmas present for the children.

"Knowing what I know, their eyes will open up really big, and they'll be in awe for a while," he said.