Ground was broken last week at the site on Shannon Road for the new Girard Junior and Senior High School building that is expected to be complete within 18 months.
The $26 million school, to be situated on 22.5 acres, was made possible through voters who approved a bond issue to pay for 20 percent of the total cost. The Ohio Schools Facilities Commission will pay 80 percent.
The school will contain a geothermal heating system. Bids were opened for the system in January and came in at $500,000 lower than expected, according to treasurer Mark Bello. Bids also included a utility package. The school is expected to open for the 2010-2011 school year.
Under a geothermal system, wells will be drilled under school grounds and will be connected by pipes that circulate water through the building. The system will provide heat in winter and cool air in summer. The system is expected to save on costs for natural gas.
The current high school building is 85 years old and too costly to maintain and upgrade, school officials have said. In addition to building new middle and high schools, the district also upgraded its athletic facilities. The district currently serves more than 1,700 students.
In March, the district was awarded $419,187 in federal stimulus funds for the Title 1 program created by the No Child Left Behind Act and targeted to help economically disadvantaged children. According to school superintendent Joseph Jeswald, 60 percent of the district's students are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program.
Government officials are encouraging districts to use the money as quickly and effectively as possible with recommendations that include saving existing jobs and improving student achievement.