Urbana to open $25M new high school after spring break

Existing high school is 120 years old, one of the oldest in the region.

Urbana High School students will head back to school in a little more than two weeks to start the last year in the district’s old building, one of the oldest schools in the region.

School leaders plan for high school students and teachers to transition into the new high school over the 2018 spring break, meaning they will finish the school year in the 88,000-square-foot building currently under construction. The building is next to the 120-year-old high school currently in use.

MORE: Urbana schools buy $925K property after problems with old site

“The plan for the building is for it to be done in March,” Superintendent Charles Thiel said. “We are a little bit ahead (of schedule) and we hope to keep ahead to make sure we have everything done and we can move into the building right after April 1.”

The plan to move into a new building in the middle of the school year will be a unique experience, Thiel said, but it’s necessary so crews can start working on demolishing parts of the old high school that will become parking lots for the new building.

“We give them as much time as possible to get as much work completed and be ready to go in the fall,” Thiel said.

About five weeks of school will be left after spring break.

While a lot of the old high school will be torn down during this process, the district will save the original part of the building dubbed the castle. That part of the historic high school is valued by many in the community, Thiel said.

Voters approved a $31 million bond issue for both a new high school and a K-eighth grade primary school on U.S. 68 south of town. The state will pick up about 61 percent of the total costs.

The cost of the new high school is $25 million and the primary school is about $39.5 million.

MORE: Urbana considers 1st income tax hike in 25 years for police, fire

Ninth-grade algebra teacher Robin Morgan has been with the district for 26 years and said getting a new building is exciting but change is always scary.

“We are scared of the new things that are going to happen but then all the positive things for the kids and all the things they are going to have,” Morgan said. “You just have to think positively about everything.”

Central air and reliable WiFi are two things Morgan is most excited about, she said. Her classroom currently doesn’t have air conditioning and becomes hot at the beginning of the school year. She buys fans before school starts.

“There is a need for an upgrade, with the WiFi issues that we have and the heat issues,” Morgan said. “The kids in the afternoon are just dying. They need this new building. I think it’s going to be great for the kids.”

MORE: Champaign County Fair includes Idol winner, ‘sense of community’

The new high school will be a welcomed change, Thiel said.

“We have invested a lot in our current classrooms but this is going to be a much higher level,” Thiel said. “The comfort and safety of our school are going to be greatly increased.”

Thiel said the school will offer collaboration spaces for teachers to work together and enough space for students to work together and individually to ensure a high quality of education.

MORE: Student of the Week Urbana High School

Primary school

The new elementary and middle school is also on target to be completed so it can be open at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year after several issues selecting a site.

“It’s coming along very nicely and is moving very rapidly,” Thiel said of construction. “I have been impressed. Fortunately, we have been able to get most of the ground work laid and they are really pushing hard to get good progress and get as much covered by winter.”

The primary school is a 180,000-square-foot project and will combine the district’s three elementaries and one middle school into one building.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Brett Kavanaugh denies sexual assault allegations in TV interview: ‘I never did any such thing’
Brett Kavanaugh denies sexual assault allegations in TV interview: ‘I never did any such thing’

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh used an interview on Fox News Monday night to defend himself against allegations of sexual misconduct ahead of a planned hearing on the matter by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning. >> Read more trending news  Kavanaugh, who was seen as a shoo-in for the high court when President Donald...
State health dept., CDC urge early flu shots
State health dept., CDC urge early flu shots

Flu season is approaching, and early vaccinations are urged and recommended.  The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is recommending all Ohioans six months and older to get earlier flu shots, according to a release. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging people to get vaccinations by the end of October. Flu activity increases...
Some will get complimentary entries for 2019 & 2020 Air Force Marathons
Some will get complimentary entries for 2019 & 2020 Air Force Marathons

An estimated 500 participants in this year's Air Force Marathon who couldn't finish the race because of the heat will be offered a complimentary entry into either the 2019 or 2020 event, race Director Brandon Hough said in an email to participants Monday. The offer does not apply to participants who dropped out of the event, Hough said in the email...
SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in first TV interview repeatedly denies sexual assault accusations
SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh in first TV interview repeatedly denies sexual assault accusations

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is under fire as accusations of sexual misconduct cloud what was expected to be a simple nomination process.   >> Read more trending news  The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to hold a hearing at 10 a.m. ET Thursday, in which a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting...
Atlanta rapper charged with trafficking $4M worth of cocaine
Atlanta rapper charged with trafficking $4M worth of cocaine

A rapper from Atlanta was indicted on federal drug trafficking charges after he was part of a multistate distribution ring, investigators said. Tommie Walker -- also known as "Columbia BT" -- and Juan Carlos Garcia-Martinez were arraigned on Friday. They face federal charges of drug trafficking and possession with intent to distribute cocaine...
More Stories