New school building coming for Middletown

Posted at 4:52 AM, Oct 19, 2015

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- Middletown City School District is slated to begin construction next spring on a new middle school and a high school expansion.

“We’re wrapping up the design process and should be taking it out to bid with the contractors in a few months,” said George Long, business manager for Middletown City Schools.

The building is expected to be complete in time for the 2018-19 school year, he said.

The construction project is part of the second phase of a district-wide update that began with an Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) assessment in 2003. The first phase included six new elementary schools and renovations on two others.

The new middle school, which will share a campus with Middletown High School, will be built around the teaming model already in place.

“We currently do it, but it’s not as effective in the older building, because students are not able to stay in specific areas of the building,” Long said.

Under the teaming model, students are divided into groups – three for seventh grade and three for eighth. Each group has its own set of teachers. Students spend each school day within their teams.

“The current building is not really constructed for that,” said Principal Michael Valenti.

Classrooms in the new middle school will be grouped together in pods designed for teams.

“It’ll almost be like a mini school within a school,” Valenti said. “It will hopefully cut back on some of the difficulties of getting from one class to another."

Sharing a campus with the high school will make it easier for middle school students to take advanced classes, the principal said, and teachers who work in both schools will not have to travel to get from one building to another.

Valenti also said that the shared campus will allow for more interaction and collaboration between middle and high school students. For example, eighth-graders could participate in some high school activities, or high schol students could be peer tutors for middle schoolers.

The new Middletown Middle School will share a campus with Middletown High School. Rendering provided by Gracie Gregory

“It opens up a wealth of opportunities we haven’t been able to explore yet,” said high school principal Carmela Cotter.

A new building also means updated technology and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems for the middle school. The current building, which was built in 1923, only has air conditioning units in some classrooms and has had roof, plumbing and electrical issues.

“We’re dealing with stuff that’s almost 100 years old, and there’s just constant maintenance on that,” Valenti said.

The $95 million construction project also includes an expansion and renovation of the high school.

The expansion will include the addition of six science classrooms, a new entrance and office area, an arena and a community room.

“It’s a much more flexible, much more utilitarian plan,” Cotter said.

The community room will provide a space for large group instruction and teacher meetings but also can be used by community groups like Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs.

Renovations will include updated plumbing and HVAC systems in the high school, which was built in 1969.

“All of the rooms will seem new when we’re done with them,” Long said.

Skylights will be installed in the building’s roof as well, to allow more light in.

“It’s going to bring some life into it all the way around,” said Superintendent Samuel Ison.

The project will be paid for through a combination of state funding and local taxes. Of the total, $50 million will come from the OFCC. The remaining $45 million will be covered by taxpayers through a 4-mill bond issue passed in 2014.

The project is expected to be complete by fall 2018.