SOUTHERN SCHOOLS Project stays on budget, schedule

A preschool is being considered for one of the school buildings that will be vacated as part of the project.
SALINEVILLE -- It will be 2004 before work on a $14.3 million expansion and renovation project being undertaken by Southern Schools is completed.
But area residents can get a sneak peek this week at progress on the massive effort.
The school board has arranged tours of the construction site that will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Superintendent Fred Burns said.
Those interested in participating should report just before that time to the school board's meeting room in the junior-senior high school, 38095 state Route 39 in Washington Township.
Work began in March on the project, intended to convert the nearly 40-year-old junior-senior high school into a kindergarten- through 12th-grade complex.
Months into the undertaking, the effort is beginning to take shape. A new 250-seat gymnasium is ready to have its roof installed, and the shell is erected on a wing that will eventually house kindergartners.
"We're very pleased" with the pace of construction, which is on schedule and on budget, said Burns.
In fact, the school board was so happy, it recently hosted a luncheon for construction workers.
Stitle Construction of Salem is general contractor.
Armed with a nearly $11.2 million state grant, the school is undertaking the project to alleviate overcrowding and rid the district of antiquated classrooms.
The balance of the $14.3 million project cost will come from the district.
Besides the new gymnasium, the project will include the addition of a second cafeteria, new classrooms and a new sewage treatment plant to serve the complex.
Right now, the district's nearly 900 pupils attend three buildings: the junior-senior high school, a primary school on state Route 39 and an intermediate school in Salineville.
Once the new complex is complete, the primary school eventually will be converted into district administrative offices.
Burns said the district also is contemplating putting a preschool in the former primary building.
The intermediate school will be put up for sale. If no buyer can be found, it will be razed.
Pupils in seventh through 12th grades will get a chance when school resumes in August to benefit from some of the construction. They'll begin using five classrooms that are being remodeled.
In January, seventh- through 12th-graders will move into some of the new construction so that their former classrooms can be remodeled.
Plans call for the work to be finished in early 2004.

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