By Robert Guttersohn
For now, the new middle school gymnasium’s floor is caked with mud.
Natural light is the only light source for the now-empty band room. And on a rainy day, water falls to the floor of what will be a classroom just under two years from now.
The sounds of pounding hammers and saws echo throughout the cement hallways. And the bright sparks from a man welding a metal tube lights up what will be the middle school cafeteria.
But when Hubbard’s new middle school is complete in 2013, it will act as a bridge, both academically and physically between the new elementary school to its north and the 1-year-old high school to its south. The entire campus will stretch a quarter of a mile under one roof and educate all of its 2,100 students on the 67-acre campus.
“We felt it was more important to build on one campus without buying new property,” said Superintendent Richard Buchenic after providing The Vindicator with a tour of the construction site. He spoke in his office housed inside 40-year-old Reed Middle School, which — like Roosevelt Elementary on Stewart Street — will be demolished after the new middle school is complete.
The campus concept will allow students to share hallways. For example, the middle and high school cafeterias will share a service area. Middle and elementary students will share a computer lab and a library. Music and drama courses will share the same hallways, storage and auditorium, which with the community pool will be the only sections of the educational structure that will not be new.
“We decided that the best idea was to share space,” Buchenic said. “Everything is centralized in one place. All the buses come here. It’s much better that way. It is much more efficient.”
The entire structure cost $56 million to build. The district paid for 32 percent of the building, borrowing the money through the issuance of 27-year bonds in 2006. And after an inspection of the district’s old school buildings, the Ohio School Facilities Commission took on 68 percent of the cost.
The building, Buchenic predicted, will save the district 30 percent in heating and cooling costs due to the 340 geothermal wells buried more than 300 feet into the ground behind the high school.
“The savings are unbelievable,” Buchenic said. “We will be saving money on the campus to spend elsewhere.”
When the entire project is complete, only the football field and the board of education offices, which will be built where Roosevelt now stands, will be located away from the campus. Reed Middle School will be converted into a softball field.
And in the woods, there will be a usable land lab for biology courses.
By November, crews hope to have applied a water-sealant membrane on the roof and the hallway’s cement blocks that will prevent leakage. That will allow contractors to work on the interior throughout the winter. With that, laminate will replace the mud that cakes the gym floor. And soon after, music will fill the halls of the new middle school.