Niles high school students, who are now taking their first exams of the 2012-13 school year, will likely be taking their final exams in the new high school, if Superintendent Mark Robinson has anything to say about it.
The new high school currently under construction between the current high school and Bo Rein Stadium on Dragon Drive, is on schedule to be completed the first or second week of April, Robinson said. If all goes according to plan, students will move into the new building so that asbestos removal can begin right away on the old building. Demolition of the old high school could be as early as June 2013, and parking lots will be completed in time for the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.
''It will take a lot of coordination,'' Robinson said. ''As they (teachers) get done with instruction materials, they can be packing up for the move."
Stairways leading to the second floor in all three wings are enclosed in glass and overlook Mosquito Creek.
Robinson said the only items being moved to the new building will be personal effects, as the new building will be equipped with new desks, tables and all other equipment needed for a fully functioning school building.
''It's got a lot of character,'' Robinson said of the new facility.
Classrooms have slanted ceilings and windows equipped with blinds between panes of glass. Miles and miles of wiring runs along wire trays in ceilings to equip each classroom and office with everything needed for state-of-the-art technology. Both the first and second floors contain a teacher workroom that includes areas for storage, sink and counter space and restrooms.
The main classroom areas are contained in three separate, two-story wings.
''I think of it like a fork with three prongs,'' Robinson said.
At the end of each wing are stairwells that are enclosed in glass with views of Mosquito Creek. A main hall that connects the three classroom wings also contains an elevator to the second floor. The red brick that enhances the outside of the building is carried to some of the inside walls as well.
General contractor for the project is local company Mike Coates Construction with Hammond Construction of Canton as builders. Many local subcontractors are currently working on installing heating and air conditioning ducts as well as wiring and conduit throughout the facility. As they move from one area to another, drywall finishers aren't far behind. Even painting has begun in some areas.
The gymnasium is separated into both a competition gymnasium and an auxiliary gymnasium with a movable wall between the two. Both will be equipped with bleacher seating that electronically pulls from the walls.
The media center will extend at an angle from the first floor of the south wing. A separate computer room is contained inside the media center, and all library tables will be equipped with computers. Book space will be cut in half, Robinson said, and will include free-standing bookshelves in the center of the glass-enclosed room.
''There won't be near as many bookshelves as we are used to seeing in a library,'' Robinson said.
A large portion of the facility is taken up by the gymnasium and auditorium, which are separated by the cafeteria. Both the gym and the auditorium have doorways into the cafeteria, which is equipped with a full kitchen and concession area. According to Robinson, those who attend basketball games and other activities in the gymnasiums or events in the auditorium will be able to filter into the cafeteria, which will act as a common area. Like the three classroom wings, the cafeteria will have a glass wall at one end that overlooks Mosquito Creek.
Outside the facility, the statue of William McKinley will have a special place. According to Robinson, the statue will be sent to Pennsylvania to be cleaned before it is placed near the main entrance to the school.
Something will have to be done with the visitors' bleachers at Bo Rein Stadium, Robinson said. The bleachers are currently so close to the new facility that the overhang from the top seats shadow the roof of the new building.
''Within the next couple weeks, we'll be discussing what to do with this,'' Robinson said. ''We don't know yet what we'll do, but something has to be done.
''This probably should have been taken care of before the construction was even started, but it is what it is,'' he said.
Work on the two elementary buildings, on the former sites of Bonham Elementary on Margaret Avenue and Lincoln Elementary on Frederick Street,
also is coming along according to schedule, Robinson said. Those facilities should be completed for the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, he said.
All of the buildings are equipped with geothermal heating and cooling. Prior to construction starting, fields made up of looping pipes are placed deep underground to capture naturally occurring heat. Geothermal pumps force the air throughout the ventilation system. The system also works with air conditioning, Robinson said, and will make a considerable difference in energy costs.
Voters approved a 5.3-mill bond issue in November 2008 to help fund the construction of two elementary schools and a new high school. The majority of the costs were funded through the Ohio Schools Facility Commission.