BETHEL TOWNSHIP — Faced with continued student population growth, Bethel Local Schools is considering its options for increasing classroom space.
At a facilities meeting and school board work session Tuesday night, the board discussed several ways to add more classrooms.
The district has spoken with three modular unit companies, explored the construction of a steel building, and discussed dividing the choir classroom into two classrooms and moving choir classes to the auditorium. Cost estimates for those options were not yet available, Superintendent Ginny Potter said.
Potter said that the district has been adding one or two classrooms a year by renovating old spaces. She estimated that the district will need six to eight new classrooms in the next four years.
Ensuring enough instructional space is “probably the highest priority,” board member Lori Sebastian said.
Board member Todd Wright said that he would like to see a list of the positives and negatives of each option.
This fall, the district repurposed several existing spaces into classrooms, including the old high school cafeteria, which was converted into two classrooms, and a basement classroom in the oldest building. Because the classrooms were not ready for the start of school, some classes were held in the board of education meeting room in the elementary building and in the old auditorium.
Potter added that she doesn’t “think it is wise” to do more renovations in the 1917 building.
The board discussed the construction of a steel building behind the elementary school, which board member Julie Reese said could be repurposed in the future as a practice gym or some other use.
The district used modular classroom units for several years before the new high school wing was completed. Those units were out in front of the building, but because of security concerns and the addition of a parking lot out front, new units would have to go behind the school, Potter said.
She added that new units would require the installation of a concrete surface and some plumbing so that the modular classrooms would have bathrooms. This would help to maintain building security, so that the main building would not have to be left unlocked all day so students could go inside to use the restroom, she said.
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