New facility at J-M brings a high-tech perspective

Grand opening: Jackson-Milton

Jackson-Milton High School/ Middle School will have a grand-opening celebration for the new $16 million facility before the beginning of the academic year.

What: Open house

When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 1

Where: 13910 Mahoning Ave., North Jackson

Source: Jackson-Milton Local School District

School officials hope technology will help students transition in higher education.


Vindicator Staff Writer

The Jackson-Milton Local

School District has replaced crumbling bricks and sagging ceiling tiles with geothermal energy and interactive whiteboards rather than chalkboards.

The district has replaced its high school and middle school building in North Jackson with a new $16 million facility, which will open this fall. The old building, built in 1913, was becoming a safety and financial issue, said Superintendent Kirk Baker.

“The older school was more costly to keep open,” he said. “We were having conditions where the ceiling was falling in, some brick was falling in and issues like that. So the school board decided to build a new school.”

The new school will be the showpiece of the district.

At 81,000 square feet, there is plenty of room for the 450 to 500 students expected to be enrolled next month. Also contained are many technological marvels that school Principal Dave Vega said are critical to a student’s future.

“The majority of the jobs these students are going to go into when they leave high school are going to be technology-based,” Vega said. “It doesn’t matter what job you go into, whether it’s manufacturing or clerical, it’s going to deal with technology in some way. ... When they leave here, we’ll have given them the heads-up for when they move into the business world that maybe other students didn’t have.”

Technology was the main focus during a tour of the new building in preparation for a grand-opening celebration next month at the site.

Ryan Rotuna, the district’s technology coordinator, said using technology will give the students a better grasp of learning and provide the teachers more flexibility with their lessons.

“We are hoping to round our students in literacy skills and technology so they can do more in the upper levels of schooling,” he said. “When they hit ninth grade, our game plan is to have the base skills taken care of so the teachers can integrate technology and do whatever they want in their discipline.”

Every room in the school, which is split into a high school wing and symmetrical middle school wing, is equipped with a DVD and video unit that can be projected onto a screen or interactive whiteboard. Teachers also will have microphone systems in their rooms.

The facility has wireless Internet capabilities and features a geothermal heating and cooling system. Baker said 120 holes were dug 350 feet deep to capture the energy. He said the savings and environmental benefits will pay for themselves.

The building also features two modern science labs, a home-

economics room with six stoves and microwaves, a cafetorium with flat-screen televisions and stage, a band and choir room with cathedral ceilings and a gymnasium that will seat about 900.

Everything, Baker said, is state-of-the-art.

Baker added that the school district is growing fast, and the new facility will offer a home for all current and future Blue Jays.

“We’re seeing at least double, and sometimes triple in some of the sports, the number of kids participating in athletics,” he said. “We’re creating a campus environment so we have basically kindergarten through grade 12 on one setting.”

He added that he hopes the campus, located off Mahoning Avenue, can expand even more and include more options.

“Hopefully in the next year or two, the Youngstown public library will be building a branch in between the new school and the elementary school. We’ll be adding to the curriculum to the high school this year, and we hope that by offering some of the new technology, we’re preparing the kids for the next step in college.”

Both Baker and Vega are entering their second year in their respective positions. Baker said the new facility will serve as a bridge between high school and the business world.

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