Springfield City School District board members got a first look Thursday at initial architectural plans for the renovation of South High School and will vote next week to approve several parts of the project.
The plans call for the construction of two new towers, at the north and south ends of the building, to serve as secure entrances with elevators to make the building more handicap-accessible.
About half of the academic space on the first and second floors has been allocated to the Global Impact STEM Academy, including the Walter Gymnasium to serve as a cafeteria.
The plan calls for the other half of the first floor to be used for the Greater Springfield CareerConnectED Center, a collaborative college and career readiness center between Springfield City School District, GISA, Clark-Shawnee Local Schools and the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center.
The Tiffany Gym, auditorium and a few other spaces have been left “unassigned” and will likely be used as shared and community space, school leaders said.
“We wanted to get some direction. Are we on the right track? Are we on the right path?” Superintendent David Estrop told the board.
Board members will be asked to approve three separate resolutions next week, Estrop said, each dealing with a separate portion of the project.
One will ask them to approve the plan for about 50,000 square feet of space on the south end of the first and second floors, which will house GISA starting next school year.
McCall Sharp Architecture and Kapp Construction were selected last year to design and build that portion and have already begun demolition, pending the approval of the design.
It includes an outdoor classroom and landscaped entryway outside the south entrance, four high-tech science labs and breaking up some existing classrooms into more flexible open space for students to work in small groups or on their own.
The second resolution will ask the board to approve setting aside about 15,000 square feet of space on the second floor for Clark State Community College’s planned food and bioscience center. That includes the northern entrance tower, the cost of which school officials said they are still in the process of negotiating with the college to cover.
Clark State was allocated $1 million for the project as part of the state’s capital budget for 2015 and 2016. The college will have to contract on its own for the design and renovation of its part of the building.
The third resolution will ask the board to approve the hiring of a criteria architect to design the remaining CareerConnectED portion before requests for proposals can be put out for that part of the renovation.
The board had many questions about that section, including whether it was taking up too much space which could be left open for unidentified future programs.
“What do you actually need to make the CareerConnectED happen?” board member Donna Picklesimer asked.
The board is not convinced that the program needs the proposed 36,000 square feet on the first and third floors in order to fulfill the requirements of the $11.3 million Straight A grant that is funding the renovation, board President Ed Leventhal said.
Estrop and others said their concerns will be easier to speak to once the criteria architect begins work.
“Until we get approval from you to utilize this space, we can’t go to a criteria architect,” said Kim Fish, communications specialist and the lead on the Straight A grant.
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