Under the Streetsboro school district's facilities master plan, Henry Defer Intermediate School will be untouched by construction, but it will house two grades instead of three.
Defer, which was built in 2002, would house fourth- and fifth-grade students if voters approve a combined bond issue and permanent improvement levy, totaling 5.06 mills on the November ballot. The bond would raise $38.7 million and combine with more than $24 million in state funding to complete the district's master school facilities plan, which started around the time Defer was built.
According to the district's September enrollment count, Defer houses 510 students from fourth to sixth grade.
"Moving sixth-graders over to the middle school, is more appropriate for that group of kids," said Board of Education president Denise Baba, adding the middle school would house grades six through eight under the plan.
Space, said Baba, is the biggest problem at Defer.
"Even with the economic downturn of the past few years, we've continued to see an increase in our student population," she said. "It probably won't be long before we have, on a regular basis, classes of around 200 students."
Henry Defer Intermediate School Principal Bill Basel said he's worked in both old and new buildings in the past. One of the big differences, he said, is air quality. Having modern heating, venting and air conditioning makes for cleaner, more comfortable air, which improves students' ability to focus on their work and learn, he said.
Basel said he makes an effort to keep each grade's classrooms in a certain area, but due to crowding that's not always possible.
"Ideally, you'd like all the grade levels in one wing," he said, explaining that having two grades at the building would resolve the quandary.
Due to crowding, one closet designed for storage of computers and networking equipment also serves as a tutoring room. "That's the main housing for mobile (computer) labs," said Basel.
The music room, which per state standards has to be 1,200 square feet, compared with 900 square feet for a regular classroom, was well-designed for its purpose, said Basel.
Baba said the needs of students and teachers have changed over the decades. No longer do students sit in six rows of desks facing the teacher, who lectures for most of the lesson.
"Education is a lot more collaborative today," she said. "We need to adjust our educational spaces and technology to the realities of today. Who would have imagined that nearly everybody would not only have a computer at home but also have hand-held devices more powerful than what our astronauts took into space in the 1960s?"
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