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Collins ready to enjoy improvements

Oct. 25, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

GETAWAY, Ohio -- Lawrence County high school students attending Collins Career Center will begin moving into newly renovated classrooms starting in a week or two as part of a $25 million addition and renovation project at the 40-year-old vocational school.

Students and teachers are in temporary quarters at present, but will begin moving into the larger, renovated classrooms around the first of November, said Collins Principal Jim Howard.

Work on the classrooms that hold the electricity, welding, carpentry, diesel mechanics, auto collision, child care, daycare and cosmetology will be moved into the renovated classrooms as the work is finished and the vocational school gets the necessary occupancy permits, Howard said.

"The new classrooms are 850 square feet, compared to the old classrooms which were 650 square feet," Howard said Monday. "The larger classrooms have more electrical outlets and smartboards."

"The students have been positive through the construction," Howard said. "The teachers have adapted well. We were worried the construction would impact enrollment, but we have 30 more students this year. We have more than 500 high school students attending classes."

Work started earlier this spring on the addition and renovation project. The Ohio School Facilities Commission is funding about 75 percent of the project and the rest is being paid for through a five-year property tax levy approved by voters. The project calls for 11,000 square feet of additions at various sites at the vocational school off Ohio 378 and Ohio 243.

The project includes a new building entrance, a new driveway, a new media center and a state-of-the-art technical center for computer classes, said Collins Superintendent Steve Dodgion.

A new administrative wing is being added to the front of the school, Howard said. Two new classrooms are being added at the west side of the building for career tech classes, he said.

Work also has started on a 7,000-square-foot addition. Called a "swing space," the addition will house high school students next school year and then be used for adult education health programs once the renovation project is finished, Howard said.

Construction also has started on a culinary arts restaurant, he said. About 4,000 square feet will be set aside for the program, some of it in renovated space and some of it as part of the addition.

About 100 construction workers were on site this week, said Joe Romanello, construction manager for the project.

The vocational school has moved its adult education classes to the old South Point High School during the construction project, Howard said.

Two modular units, each holding two classrooms, have been added at the vocational school during the project, he said.