The Suburbanite
  • Coventry High building plans garner positive feedback

  • Thirty Coventry school district residents got a look at tentative plans for the construction of a new high school.

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  • It’s all starting to come together.
    Sept. 19, 30 community members attended the first information session regarding the building of a new Coventry High School. The construction project is part of a district-wide improvement plan that is funded in part by a 5.99-mill bond issue and permanent improvement levy passed by voters in May. State funding is also available for the project.
    The GPD Group will oversee the building project.
    Project manager Rodwell King presented an overview of the project including the development of schematic plans and the eventual hiring of the “design-build team.”
    Conceptual plans are subject to state-funding mandates, but community members were encouraged to offer feedback on the kind of building they would like to see.
    “‘What do you want your high school to be?’ is a question that will be there throughout (the building process),” King said, noting there are many unique opportunities for the new school.
    Eco-friendly designs and technology have been rolled into plans for the high school and feedback on these plans from district faculty and staff have been positive.
    The geographic location of the new school, particularly its proximity to the Portage Lakes, could also offer unique design opportunities.
    The lakes off an opportunity for “pumping water into the building for biology classes,” King said. “We have the opportunity to make this a true 21st Century learning environment and we could do some amazing things.”
    Some more traditional high school building amenities, however, may not be possible. The most glaring example of this may be the design-build guideline that provides no state funding for the construction of a theater or auditorium. While a stage could be built, King said, the space would double as a cafeteria.
    Coventry High School student Lindsey Smith, 16, will never attend school at the new building, but said she is excited about the project for her younger siblings, Connor, 14, and Taylor, 11. The theater component of the project, however, was Smith’s biggest concern.
    “Our band and choir do a lot with (the existing) theater,” Lindsey Smith told King. The project manager replied that while the space would double as a cafeteria, the stage itself would be “bigger than what you have here.”
    The Smith children’s father, Pete, is a GPD employee but was not part of the presentation.
    “Speaking strictly as a parent,” Pete Smith said, “I couldn’t be happier with what this community is doing for itself.”
    While he also expressed overall excitement for the project, Coventry resident Chris Davis said he was surprised that the Erwine site met the state standards for required acreage.
    “I understand why the site was chosen – if you can replace one building, Erwine is in the worst shape,” Davis said. “But it is the smallest site available.”
    Page 2 of 2 - King allowed that the “traffic circulation” component of the schematic plan will be one of the most important – and challenging – aspects of the project.
    Superintendent Russell Chaboudy said that in spite of the state mandates, the design-build approach represents the best bang for the district’s buck. He added that having GPD at the helm ensures even more devotion to the specific needs of the community.
    “We are very excited (about GPD) – it’s a local company and its leader, Mark Sedlak, is a 1979 Coventry graduate,” Chaboudy said. “They will be getting (community) feedback and taking it back as they put drawings together for what a new high school may look like.”

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