Illiteracy problems grow in Ohio

By Jen Hirt Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Architect Paul Ricciuti of Ricciuti, Balog, & Partners Architects made the announcement last Thursday, when he presented the floor plans to the Board of Education.

The district secured $20.6 million in state building funds after voters approved a 2.83-mill bond issue last November. Along with a new elementary school, students will have a new high school. East Elementary and the junior high will undergo major renovations.

The school is scheduled to open on August 2, 1999.

The proposed plan provides 70,000 square feet of space, with room for 24 students in each of the 26 classrooms. A 4,000 square foot media center will have natural lighting through a skylight. Two outdoor courtyards have been designated for environmental learning, and there is a secure, easily-monitored main entrance.

Ricciuti presented a "pod design," which includes three separate areas for the pre-K through third-graders.

"It will help to eliminate congestion and noise. The kids won't be out in the hallways so much," said Superintendent Vincent Frammartino.

"This design really has great potential," said Ricciuti. Three classrooms will be reserved for pre-school children, in the same pod with five kindergarten rooms. The 1,200 square-foot rooms are partially carpeted, each with their own bathrooms. Four classrooms will be on each side of the wing.

The middle pod will have ten 900 square-foot first- and second-grade classrooms, each with their own sinks.

The final pod features eight 800 square-foot rooms; five for the third-graders and three specifically for special education students. The special education section includes a private shower facility, which state guidelines require.

Every pod has central bathrooms and a communal planning room for the teachers. All have window views of courtyards or play areas.

The courtyards between the pods will be securely fenced. Board members inquired about each classroom having a private courtyard door. Two play areas will also be constructed.

A stage connects the cafeteria and 4,600 square-foot gymnasium, providing venues for small and large crowds. Board members were pleased with the concept, noting that the cafeteria could make an excellent "back stage" warm-up area during performances.

As visitors enter the building, the gymnasium and cafeteria will be on the left. A reception room and the administrative offices will be on the right, allowing staff to see everyone who enters the building. The media center, computer, art and music rooms will also be on the right.

The "new KT," as it's called, will be built on 25 acres east of Maple Grove Road, across from the intersection of Community Road and Maple Grove Road. Busses will have access to a gated drop-off/pick-up point. Board members discussed having a similar secured area for students arriving by car.

Pending state approval of the plans, R.P. Carbone Construction could break ground for the foundation as soon as August 31.

Carbone's education specialist, Doyle Davidson, cautioned any delays with the project would most likely result from lengthy state reviews. Although an "aggressive schedule" has been implemented to counter such delays, project manager Joe Recktenwald Jr. said that "(the state) can't take too much time. We have no remaining lag time in this schedule."

Katherine Thomas Elementary must be built first, so East Elementary students can use the old KT building for the year that their building is being renovated. The old KT building, now 50 years old, will then be razed once the renovations at East are complete.

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