SPRINGFIELD TWP.: A good education is why Bob Wilson moved his family from North Canton to the Springfield school district in February.
“This is what I wanted: a nicer school for you, guys,” Wilson said, standing between his son John, an eighth-grader, and daughter Claire, a fifth-grader, in an iMac-equipped computer lab at Springfield’s new combined high school and junior high building on Canton Road.
On Saturday, Wilson and hundreds of students, parents, residents and alumni toured the 175,000-square-foot building, which officially opens Monday after a six-month delay.
Students in seventh grade through 12th grade were expected to move in last fall, but a shaky second floor — whether due to design or construction has not yet been determined — added $884,762 to the $42 million project and postponed the move-in date until after the holiday break.
“Now, we all know that it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing,” board President Neal Hess told a packed auditorium, which holds 650 seats, during a dedication ceremony on Saturday morning. “On any project of this magnitude, you’re going to have problems. It’s not whether you have problems, it’s how you confront those problems.”
For leading the district out of fiscal distress and mitigating the shaky-floor situation, Hess commended Superintendent Bill Stauffer.
Stauffer led the dedication ceremony, attended by Springfield alumna and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice, Springfield Township Trustee Dean Young, school board members and other distinguished guests.
Among the speakers was John Frola, who chaired a 2010 levy campaign to pass a bond issue raising $33.7 million in local property taxes to draw a state match for the remainder of the $42 million project.
Frola also chaired the Building Advisory Committee, staffed by alumni, business professionals, teachers, administrators, clergy and students.
Incoming students, who transition to the new school on Monday, attended virtual tours in the auditorium before the holiday break.
Saturday was the first time many got the chance to freely explore their new learning environment, to take in the ample natural lighting pouring in from large windows and to walk between red and gray lockers that lined the hallways.
High school and junior high students are largely separated, with individual band rooms, restrooms and instructional wings that house specialized computer, science and math classrooms. The middle school has its own gymnasium with retractable bleachers. The high school has a larger, 1,000-seat gym located behind a shared dining area.
Other shared amenities include a weight room, second-floor media center, distance-learning lab, an atrium joining each instructional wing just beyond the main entrance, an elevator and a music or choir room.
With wireless Internet, 150 security cameras, wall-mounted flat-screen televisions and other safety and technology features, the building — the first school to be constructed in more than 60 years in the district — replaces an aging high school in general disrepair.
“We as a community realized that the buildings our children were in were woefully inadequate, from leaky roofs to broken windows,” Frola said of local support for the project.
Justice agreed: “The best measure of a community is its commitment to education.”
He added that he would like to see the Lakemore water tower — a rusty blue structure shadowing the new school — painted a “brilliant red and gray” to symbolize the community’s “integrity” and “commitment.”
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.