The Akron school board approved a renovation project Monday to make room for the first sophomore class of STEM school students at the National Inventors Hall of Fame High School.
The board also accepted bids to oversee asbestos removal at three district buildings targeted for demolition. Both projects should be completed over the summer.
School officials say the consolidation and renovation of six STEM High School classrooms into four collaborative, interconnected rooms would benefit the very sophomores who drew up the plans. Currently freshmen, these students spearheaded the project’s design as part of a mandatory engineering class offered at the STEM High School.
“It really just opens up the environment and encourages collaboration on a whole new level,” STEM Principal Larry Johnson Jr., said of his students’ blueprints, which include connecting rooms called “Breakout Spaces.”
The $120,500 project would mark the last Akron schools’ renovation of Central-Hower on Forge Street. The district recently sold the school building to the University of Akron in exchange for $13.5 million in merit scholarships. Transfer of ownership is expected in July.
The STEM High School opened this school year with only a freshman class. The program continues at Central-Hower after Akron schools secured a minimum five-year lease for the STEM High School as part of the sale agreement with UA. A new freshman class will be added each year until the current class graduates in 2016.
Board members also voted to accept nearly $100,000 in bids to oversee testing and removal of asbestos at Harris and Heminger Elementary buildings and Hyre Middle School.
Hyre Middle School, marked for demolition and currently attached to the newly constructed Hyre Community Learning Center, provides swing space for Hatton Elementary students. When Hatton CLC is completed by the fall, those dislocated students would return to their community building as construction workers finish asbestos abatements for Hyre Middle School, and Harris and Heminger Elementary buildings.
Facilities Director Paul Flesher estimates asbestos removal for all three buildings at $765,000, but he is still awaiting bids.
Demolition of all three buildings should be completed by the end of the calendar year, said Flesher, who expects to review demolition contracts for the elementary buildings in the next two weeks.
After Hyre Middle School comes down, the existing gymnasium — preserved and already attached to Hyre CLC — would be resurfaced so that the tan bricks of the middle school gym’s exterior would match the burgundy bricks covering the new building.
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.