LANCASTER — Lancaster City Schools ushered in the latest wave of a facilities plan that included the construction of five elementary schools and two middle schools when it began construction of a new high school building Thursday.
Special guests who spoke at the groundbreaking included Central Ohio District Manager Leonard Hubert on behalf of U.S. Senator Rob Portman, State Senator Tim Schaffer and Mayor David Scheffler.
After the elect had delivered their remarks, the Lancaster High School Band of Gold performed. After the group, the Executive Director of Summit Construction Company presented a shovel to the school administration to commemorate the event. Then, representing the school district, School Board President Kathy Kittredge, Lancaster High School Principal Scott Burre, and City of Lancaster Schools Superintendent Nathan Hale all addressed the crowd.
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Among the major additions to the new building will be amenities such as air conditioning and improved facilities. According to Hale, this new building will be a major improvement over the existing situation for several reasons.
“Having our students on campus, we currently have the career tech students at Stanberry,” Hale said. “Having everyone under one roof provides a much safer environment. Also, newer facilities. We don’t have air conditioning at our current high school or at Stanberry, so air conditioning and upgraded facilities and much more space available.”
Burre supported Hale’s claims, stating that the exterior appearance of the building still holds up but the infrastructure is well below the standards they hope to maintain in the new building.
“When you look at the physical appearance of our building, it still looks pretty good,” Burre said. “But when you start getting into the inner workings, you know, the infrastructure of the building, that’s just not the case. When you’re talking about the plumbing, the electrical, things like that, it’s not just isn’t up to date.”
According to Burre, this new building will help students in their learning.
“You know, when you walk into a place that’s fair, the aesthetics and the opportunities are there, you just have more pride,” Burre said. “You have more attention, more pride, you’re able to do more things pedagogically, academically, that we haven’t been able to do. These simple opportunities should provide more excitement to come to the school every day and work a little harder.”
As for the current secondary school building, open since 1963, it will be removed to make way for the parking lot of the new secondary school.
With this new building on the way, schools in the city of Lancaster had in mind the enrollment of more students. As their building is set to expand, Hale said the choice to create space for more listings was intentional.
“There is room in the new building for additional listings,” Hale said. “We think it could accommodate up to 2,000 students if needed. So we have room for at least a few hundred more students.”
“The state’s comprehensive plan will allow for some enrollment increases,” Hale said.
Funds for the different waves of this facilities plan come from several different sources, including the bond levy that was passed in 2019.
“Local dollars with the state’s share,” Hale said. “The bond tax was passed for elementary and high school. And our income tax funds cover payments on junior high buildings.”
With the passage of this first shovelful of earth on the site of the new high school building, a construction project which should last until the end of 2025 is officially launched. Until then, Burre’s message about what students and teachers should be excited for was short and to the point.
“The air conditioning,” Burre said. “It’s as simple as that. AC. And no more toilets for staff.”