Schools project in works

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In May, Ironton voters said yes to an $18 million school issue and bond levy to pay for a new elementary and middle school and a new high school that may include parts of the existing one.

While much of the work since then to actually build those new schools has been quiet, school officials say progress is being made and the work is on schedule.

“Things are moving and they’re moving quickly,” Superintendent Dean Nance said. “Just because they don’t see a shovel in the earth doesn’t mean we aren’t moving toward new schools.”

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Between soil tests, site studies and something called “school programming” things are starting to take shape.


Late last week, the Ironton City Schools Board of Education created two new committees that will bridge the gulf between public input and the architects that will design and build the new facilities.

The two new committees will meet Monday with representatives from the architectural team of Fanning-Howey, of Dublin and Shawn Walker and Associates of Ashland, Ky.

The idea is for the committees to collect public input and relay it on to the people in charge.

On the elementary/middle school team, members are two school board members, Bob Vaughn and Kathy Kratzenberg; two

community representatives, Jackie McAfee and Jan Wolfe; two teachers, Julie Ball and Tiffany Graham and two principals, Kim Brown and Toby Shreck.

On the high school team, members are board members Tim Johnson and Robert Pleasant Jr.; community representatives Joe Unger and Dale Clark, teachers Linda Gagai and Marissa Fields and principal Joe Rowe.

Joel Utsinger, who is the technology coordinator for the district, will likely have input on both committees, Nance said.

These two committees will meet regularly until the buildings are completed. They will not actually make decisions but instead solicit input from the community.

Those with ideas about how the schools should be built may contact any of the committee members, Nance said.

Meanwhile, Nance said school officials are in the second phase of what is known as “programming” the new schools.

They first sat down and discussed how many teachers the district has and how many classrooms are needed in the new buildings.

They then took the teaching space needs and adapted them to Ohio School Facilities Commission guidelines. State officials have detailed regulations for everything.

“The facilities commission has rules for how many square feet of space you have to have for each student, and if you have an auditorium, what your restroom facilities have to be,” Nance said.

The next step will be for local officials to determine a very rough configuration of space that can be presented to the architects to help guide them in their designs.

Preliminary figures indicate the new high school that will house grades 9-12 will be approximately 100,000 square feet.

Each classroom will have a minimum of 900 square feet; some of them, such as science, chemistry and physics classes will have 1,200 square feet of space.

The combined size of the elementary and middle schools, which will have some common space, will be 140,000 square feet, according to those preliminary figures.

After architects develop rough designs, the community will be asked to give their input and those design plans will then be tweaked so that final plans can be made. Those plans will likely be ready by early next year.




H.C. Nutting Co.

are in the process of conducting core drillings at the two building sites as well as conducting geotechnical and environmental site surveys.

E.L. Robinson and Associates engineering firm is conducting topographical and deed research surveys.

What’s the purpose of all these studies — besides the fact the OSFC requires them?

4To make sure the new buildings are built on property the school district actually owns.

4To ensure the land can actually accommodate the new buildings.

4To ensure there are no environmental hazards (contaminated soil, for instance).

4To make certain there are no other geographical or structural factors that would preclude these sites from being used.

“One of the good things about being last on the list in Lawrence County to get new schools is we will benefit from the corrections of any mistakes that were made in the past,” Nance said.

“We’ve all heard about schools that were built (in other areas) on abandoned mine shafts and sinking after they were built. These studies will make sure this doesn’t happen in Ironton,” he said.

The elementary and middle schools will be built on land adjacent to the existing middle school on Delaware Street. The high school will be torn down and the new one built in its place.

The timetable calls for actual construction to begin on the elementary and middle schools by June 2007 and for those buildings to be completed in 2009.

The timetable for the high school calls for construction to begin in June 2006 and for the building to be completed by June 2011.