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High school building approved

A new building will be going up at Oak Harbor High School to bring the big “renovation” project within the budget approved by voters.

With the renovation project over budget even before it begins, designers on Monday night highlighted how a new building will bring the project under budget with room to spare.

With the change approved by the school board, current estimates show the renovation stands tentatively at $2.3 million under budget. School leaders want that wiggle room in case the bids for the project come in higher than expected. The project will be bid in two phases. The first one takes place next spring and the second one takes place next fall.

Plans now call for constructing a new building that will be built in the front of the campus. The old idea of a major renovation to the dome-shaped fieldhouse was rejected as too costly.

The new, two-story building will house a commons area on the first floor that will accommodate 700 students during lunch time. There will also be a stage complete with retractable bleachers to separate the stage from the remaining commons area.

Designers said the stage area will have better lighting and better acoustics than its previous planned location in the fieldhouse.

The second floor of the commons building will house the choir and band rooms along with several health classrooms and storage space. These changes won’t affect the plans for other parts of the renovation project.

“We’re not talking about any reductions or changes to those buildings,” said Philip Riedel, project architect for NAC Architecture, the firm hired by the school district to design the renovation, at Monday’s school board meeeting.

Officials had to start making changes to the project last month when estimates indicated the $52 million renovation project would be over budget by about a million dollars.

Superintendent Rick Schulte said that there are many aspects of the new designs that are better than the old ones.

In addition to the new building, there will still be significant changes in store for the fieldhouse.

The weight room will double in size, and room will be made in the building for an expanded NJROTC room, equipment and training room, while leaving enough space for a basketball court. Workers will replace the hardwood floor with a new synthetic one, which is more appropriate for a building that is used by everyone from cheerleaders to the rifle squad.

“We need to have a multipurpose floor in there and a synthetic floor is much better for that,” Schulte said. In addition to the floor, the fieldhouse will also be made ADA accessible and have new lockers installed.

The school board approved the design development plans for the renovation of A and B wings along with the construction of the new career and technical wing. Members approved it by a four to one margin. Corey Johnson voted against the proposal because he wanted more information about the project and more assurances that the renovation is under budget.

The school board had to approve the designs Monday to keep the project on schedule to call for bids on the career and technical building next spring.

The changes to the renovation plans also changed the schedule to complete the project. Originally the renovation was scheduled to be complete by September 2010. Now that date has been changed to January 2011.

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