Urbana City Schools’ new buildings are moving closer to reality, with the high school under construction and the site for the pre-kindergarten to grade eight building selected.
The school board approved the next step in the process to construct the elementary/middle school at its Tuesday meeting. This was the approval of the design development stage submission for the school. At this point, architects and builders are reconciling the design of the building to ensure it fits into the budget, Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel said.
The board also approved a change order to install LED lights at the new high school. The purchase is possible through savings on bids received for the rest of the school, leaving some budget dollars available, Thiel said. LED lights are more energy efficient and customizable compared to other types of lighting.
The elementary/middle school will be built on a large parcel of land along South U.S. Route 68, between Vintage Drive Thru and Campground Road. The district plans to have the property annexed into the city.
The district purchased a 68.9-acre parcel for the school and is working on purchasing a neighboring three-acre parcel to serve as the entrance site for the school, Thiel said.
The high school is being built on its current site, with builders working around students attending classes. Thiel told the school board footers are being put in for the high school, and through that process, construction workers discovered soil issues.
The first issue was contaminated soil on the north end of the new building. Thiel said that soil had a diesel-type smell when construction crews began digging into it. The soil was tested and it was determined it could be disposed of in the Bellefontaine landfill. Thiel said he is not certain if there was an industrial business there, such as a factory or a car shop, at one point. The contaminated soil was removed and replaced with fresh soil.
Also, construction workers discovered unstable soil at the south end of the new building. It was also removed and replaced with more stable soil.
The hope is to begin construction on the elementary/middle school building in the spring. The high school is predicted to be completed in summer 2019, though students are expected to be able to use the new high school by March 2018.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.