TALLMADGE — A steady stream of parents, grandparents, children, and current and retired school staff came to take a look at the new middle school Tuesday.

“It’s been nonstop, and we are only 45 minutes in,” said Steve Wood, chief operating officer with the Tallmadge City Schools. He was greeting those visiting the new middle school, which is still under construction, in the area he said would serve as the loading and unloading point for students taking the bus to and from school.

The new facility, which is next to the current middle school, is slated to open at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Everyone interviewed said they loved what they saw so far.

“We really like it a lot,” said Diana Morneweck, whose three children all graduated from Tallmadge High School and who now has grandchildren in the district’s schools. “We like the colors of the different rooms, and the super nice gym. We are really excited, it’s been a long time coming.”

Morneweck said she also liked how all of the school buildings are now close together.

“When you are in the office, you can see the elementary school,” she said of that new building also under construction. The elementary school, which will merge the students currently attending Dunbar Primary and Munroe Elementary schools, is scheduled to open in January 2020.

“The building looks great,” said Diana’s husband Tom. “I can’t wait to see it when it is finished.”

One of the highlights of the open tour was the opportunity to sign the concrete gym floor. The gym seemed to be especially popular with those touring the new facility.

“I like the gym,” said Marina Chase, 11, who will be among the first students to attend the school in the upcoming school year. She and her family had just finished signing the concrete floor.

“It’s definitely an improvement over the gym at the old middle school,” Marina’s mother, Jessica added. “We’re just really excited about it.”

Debbie Kozlowski, who graduated from Tallmadge High School in 1980, said she “just loved seeing the changes.”

“I plan all the reunions, so it’s kind of neat to see this now,” Kozlowski said.

Kara Hurst, Kozlowski’s oldest daughter, graduated from Tallmadge High School in 2003 and works for The Juhlin Co. in Sharon Center, which is handling the construction. Kara said the school was “an innovative design with a collaborative approach.”

James Shannon, a counselor at the middle school, supervised the gym floor signings and invited people to sign the concrete during the open house. He said there were several aspects of the new school that he especially liked.

“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “I like the idea of the open spaces where students can work or collaborate. I like the idea that the elementary school and the middle school will be so close together.”

Shannon said the middle school students would occasionally go to the elementary building to serve as mentors, but currently “it was hard because we had to get a bus.”

“Now, we can just walk down,” Shannon said. “We even have a shared courtyard. I’m looking forward to it.”

Bond issue and history

The construction of the new middle and elementary schools is being financed through a bond issue passed by voters in November 2016. The 3.9-mill bond issue will raise $31 million toward the cost of the $45 million projects. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission will contribute the remaining $14 million.

The new elementary building will house the district’s kindergarten through fifth-graders, and the middle school will be for the sixth- through eighth-graders.

Munroe Elementary will be bulldozed, and the land will be incorporated into the high school campus and make up the athletic fields. The middle school, which served as the district’s high school until 2008, when the current high school was opened, also will be demolished. The administration plans to sell Dunbar.

Voters also approved a 0.9-mill levy for constructing a new high school stadium and athletic facilities. The bond issue generates $7 million for the stadium and planned renovations. These facilities include a football/soccer stadium, practice fields and baseball and softball fields.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, ahelms@recordpub.com, or @AprilKHelms_RPC