By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer
The Akron school board on Monday approved the next phase of the school construction program a new facility for Firestone High School and Litchfield Middle School.
The two schools are in separate buildings now, but they share the same campus in northwest Akron so they'll be rebuilt together, said Paul Flesher, the district's executive director of facility planning and capital improvement.
The district will hold community meetings in February to begin planning.
The new facility could be one building for both schools with separate entrances such as the East and Buchtel projects that combine the high school and middle schools. Or Firestone and Litchfield could be rebuilt as separate buildings, Flesher said.
The plan now, although preliminary, would be to move Litchfield students during construction into the Perkins Middle School building, which will be vacant when Perkins moves into the new Buchtel building.
Litchfield would then be torn down and replaced with the new facility while Firestone High School students remain in their building. When the new construction is finished, Litchfield and Firestone students would move in.
The old Firestone High School would then be destroyed to make room for fields and other open space, al
though the district likely will save and renovate the high school's natatorium and one of the auxiliary gyms.
Flesher said the project will cost about $62 million. It will take about 18 months to complete designs for the project and about two years to construct the new school.
The district also will use money from this phase of construction to demolish several school buildings no longer in use.
The state is paying for 59 percent of the basic cost of the nearly $800 million program, with a voter-approved city income tax increase covering the rest. The schools double as community centers for public use after hours.
So far 21 of 47 total buildings have been completed. Five are under construction and three elementary schools are being designed. That leaves 18 left to go.
The project is expected to be completed by 2016 if the city can sell the remaining bonds next year.