YOUNGSTOWN School planners get student input

Architects hope to break ground on the new high school and the expansion of Chaney in August 2002.
YOUNGSTOWN -- They've talked with principals. They've talked with teachers. They've talked with school staff.
Now, the architects in charge of the city schools' $163.5 million building projects are talking to the other people in the trenches: The students.
"We want to hear what they have to say," said Ray Jaminet of Olsavsky-Jaminet Architects. "We just might learn something."
Jaminet and Principal Robert Spencer met with a group of 14 Chaney High School students in the school library Thursday afternoon to hear suggestions about changes they would like to see in their school.
"I think it's good that they're asking us what we think," freshman Bryan Kopachy, 15, said after the 45-minute meeting.
More to come: The session was the first of many that architects hope to have with high school students about the $23 million expansion of Chaney and the construction of a $30 million high school on the city's East Side.
The high schools are the largest part of the $163.5 million facilities plan made possible by passage of a 4.4-mill tax issue in November. The tax will raise the $33.2 million local share, and the state will fund $130.2 million.
In addition to building the high school and doubling the size of Chaney, the project calls for three new elementary schools and major renovations and/or additions to 12 schools.
Construction of the new schools and Chaney's addition is expected to begin August 2002. The project will take about six years to complete.
Building teams: Anthony DeNiro, executive director of school business affairs, said architects have been meeting with facility building teams at each school to get input on the design of the new and refurbished schools. The teams include the principal, secretary, custodian, community members and teachers.
Thursday's meeting at Chaney was the first involving students, he said. Students at Woodrow Wilson High School and The Rayen School will meet with architects to talk about the new high school. Wilson and Rayen will become middle schools under the facilities plan.
"We want this to be a state-of-the-art facility that's going to meet our community's needs for the next 50 years, and we want your input," Spencer told students.
Over a snack of pizza, cake and pop, students had a few suggestions and asked questions about several details, including:
USize: Major renovations to Chaney, including a three-story addition.
USecurity: Cameras will monitor hallways and the outside of the building.
UStudent body: Each of the city's two high schools will have about 1,250 students. Chaney now has about 950.
UAppearance: New windows, lighting and flooring, as well as air conditioning.
UFurniture: New desks, tables and chairs. Before buying new desks and chairs, architects will bring samples to the school for student input, Jaminet said.
UComputers: Four computers per classroom; nine computer labs throughout the school.
UGym: With the construction of a gym in the new section, the school will have two -- one for physical education classes and one primarily for sporting events.
UCafeteria: Four or five times as big as the old cafeteria.

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