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New schools just weeks away from completion

August 7, 2013
By J.T. Whitehouse , Town Crier

In just a couple of weeks, an army of storage pods will be delivered to the two new school buildings off Idaho Road and teachers will begin moving their supplies and educational materials to their new classrooms as they prepare for the start of the school year. Finishing details are being made prior to the final inspection and the issuance of an occupancy permit.

Mal Culp, supervisor of facilities and operations, said the new buildings are very kid-friendly from the lively colors and designs to the way the classrooms are laid out. One example is the restroom facilities that are in each classroom.

Each classroom has a sink that is equipped with a drinking fountain set at the right height for the shorter students that will occupy it. The same goes for a separate restroom facility with lower toilets that will accommodate the younger crowd.

Article Photos

Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Mal Culp, supervisor of facilities and operations, shows the colorful design of the new main office for the new kindergarten-through-second grade building that will be completed within the next two weeks.

Students are sure to be comfortable in their classrooms through a new coolant control system.

"Our new buildings will be cooled using no electricity for air conditioning," Culp said. "It's through a system that is typical in California."

The system includes two large storage tanks that contain a coolant. In the hotter months, the coolant is frozen overnight. When school begins, the frozen coolant is used to circulate through the building and the result is a comfortable atmosphere without running an expensive air conditioning unit.

The new schools also have very few areas without windows. The idea was to use as much natural lighting as possible. Culp said none of the windows are operational (opening and closing), which had a good point to it as well.

"First off, we spoke with police and fire departments who both said they didn't do rescues through windows," Culp said. "Having non-functioning windows allowed us to buy bigger windows at a cheaper price."

Classroom windows have internal shades that can be closed to block direct sun. The room lighting actually adjusts to a lower level of light when the natural light is strong. All rooms are equipped with lights that turn off when a sensor detects no one is in the room. That feature alone saves on the electric bill.

The sealed windows help when it comes to the air system in the building. Culp said the air is filtered every 20 minutes throughout the building. It guarantees that dust and airborne particles are kept to a minimum.

The flooring throughout the school has been well thought-out, too. All the floors are made of rubber tiles. The tiles are easy to clean and create a walking surface that is easy on the feet. Carpeted areas at the entrance are made of a permanent material that collects the dirt and moisture tracked in on shoes.

"By the time the student walks to the tiled area, his or her shoes are dry and clean," Culp said.

Another feature for the new buildings are media centers that contain the library and computer labs. Culp said the state requires a certain area in new buildings be set aside for that. In the new Austintown schools, the main media center was downsized and smaller media centers were built in each wing for each grade. As an example, the kindergarten media center is located in the middle of the kindergarten wing. It would contain kindergarten-specific books and materials. By using the satellite media centers combined with the square footage of the main building media center, the space requirement was met.

There are many other specific improvements and state-of-the-art gadgetry that have been incorporated into the new building. Everything will be, or already is up and running.

As for security, the main entrances to the buildings have a double set of doors. Both sets are open when the students arrive at school. Once the students are in, the second set is locked, which forces individuals to enter through the main office before they can be admitted inside the building.

While the buildings are nearing completion, the school board approved R.T. Vernal to complete the outside. They will finish the site work and add in the landscaping over the next few weeks.

"We are expecting to occupy the new buildings in the next two weeks," Culp said.



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