Village council is considering the proposal.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- Two separate school buildings here may soon become one large campus, if school officials' plan to add a cafetorium connecting the two buildings goes forward.
The fate of the project is in the hands of village council members, who must vote to vacate the land for the proposed addition. Council is considering the issue.
Since the late 1800s there has been a school building, through dozens of renovations, at the Elm Street location that now houses Poland Middle School. McKinley Elementary School, which sits a few hundred feet across the street from the middle school, was built in the 1960s.
Superintendent Robert Zorn said it's time for some changes, and those two buildings may unite in less than a year -- into one building with a unified look, six more classrooms, new landscaping, and an all-new cafeteria and auditorium.
Under the plan: Zorn said the school board is looking to remove a small portion of Elm Street that divides the two buildings and install a 10,000-square-foot cafetorium with fully enclosed ramps connecting to each building. He said work would be done to the outside of each building to give the impression of one continuous structure.
Cost: The addition and all related work on the two buildings will cost an estimated $3 million. Zorn said the project would be paid for through an existing capital improvement fund, so there would be no need to increase taxes.
According to Zorn, making the improvements will upgrade the schools' aesthetics, solve a potential sanitary problem, increase safety and boost the educational tools available to students.
There is sewer pipe running below the gymnasium of the middle school and portion of Elm Street where the addition will stand. Under the proposed plans, the board would reroute that pipe to the front of the building. New laws do not permit structures to be built over sewer pipes.
There is also a big safety issue with the way the buildings are situated. Zorn said that at the end of each school day, children pour out onto Elm Street and must cross between buses and cars while trying to make their way to a waiting bus or parent.
Should the addition be built, most of that street would be removed and students would be released from a central door in front of the building, with enough room to safely board school buses and wait for parents.
Once the addition is built, more space will be available in both buildings for six additional classrooms for potential student population growth. Zorn said the upgrades should add 50 years of use to the buildings.
If plans progress smoothly, Zorn said, work on the buildings will begin in April 2002.