Friday, June 16, 2000

Old school gets upgrade

Hamilton funds to add space, modern additions

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — Teachers at Wilson Junior High School soon won't have to worry about blowing a fuse if they turn on a video in class at the same time a fan is running.

        And administrators won't be looking at converting any more bathrooms into small classrooms, or stairwells into offices as has been the practice the past few years.

        That's because the electrical upgrades planned for the nearly 70-year-old building will provide more than one outlet in each classroom. When the work is done, each teacher will get at least three computer stations.

        “We are really excited about the work,” Principal Tracey Miller said of several improvement projects under way at his 900-pupil school. “We're trying to run 21st-century classrooms with computers on early 1900s electricity and infrastructure.”

        Work at Wilson — which includes adding four science labs and a media center, building a fine arts wing, installing drop ceilings, upgrading electrical systems and adding bleachers — is part of a districtwide improvement plan that is being paid for through proceeds of a $45 million bond issue approved 13 months ago. Donna and Ralph “Pat” Carruthers donated the money for the fine-arts wing.

        It is the first time in 44 years the Hamilton School District has been able to afford major improvements at every building in the district, said Everett Mann, administrative assistant for business/planning and state/federal programs. Projects from the 1999 bond issue will be completed by August 2002.

        “It's good to see things start to happen,” Mr. Mann said of the work, much of which begins this month. “We designed the projects to fit the Ohio School Facilities Committee's design manual so that the bond issue could count toward matching funds for future projects.”

        About $100 million in repairs was documented through the work of a district facilities committee. Two larger money issues to pay for all the work and provide operating dollars were defeated by Hamilton voters in 1997.

        About $19 million to $20 million from the 1999 bond issue is slated for classroom additions, $17 million to $18 million will be spent for safety issues or mechanical system upgrades, and the rest will be used for other improvements.

        Site work at Hamilton High begins this week. A new entrance, classrooms, a media center and auxiliary gymnasium are planned. A fine-arts addition, science labs and renovations are planned for next year, said Todd Thackery, architect and project manager with Steed-Hammond-Paul Inc.

        Cleveland school will get eight classrooms and an auxiliary gymnasium. McKinley is in line for a 10-classroom addition and a multipurpose room plus remodeling in the cafeteria and gymnasium, Mr. Thackery said.

        In November, bids for a six-classroom addition and auxiliary gym for Hayes and Monroe elementary schools will be awarded. Electrical upgrades are planned for all buildings.

        Roofs, parking lot and gymnasium improvements are planned for Adams, Harrison, Pierce and Jefferson elementary schools.


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