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School upgrades slated for fall start

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A $15 million construction project will add gathering places where Center Grove High School students can work on class projects, check their email or grab a snack between classes.

This fall, construction is set to begin on a renovation project that will expand the high school media center’s entrances and add a tech bar, commons and cafe for students. All of the additions will give students more places to do course work on campus.

The work is part of an overall $42 million project that includes moving the gyms at Center Grove Elementary and North Grove Elementary schools to the exteriors of the buildings and building more secure entrances at other Center Grove schools.

School officials have been working on plans since last year to renovate the high school’s media center, which hasn’t been updated since 1995. Superintendent Richard Arkanoff has said he wants high school students to have more open, comfortable spaces where they can use school-issued iPads to complete online lessons and where students can study and work together in small groups.

Center Grove also plans to improve the high school’s security by moving the main office from the center of the building to the main entrance and by building a secure vestibule at the west entrance to the Hall of Excellence. Both additions will require visitors to check in before entering the rest of the building. The high school also will renovate the science labs and upgrade restrooms so that they’re handicap accessible.

Last week, Center Grove released more detailed plans showing what the new high school additions could look like and updated estimates of what the projects will cost. Those estimates show that construction costs for several of the projects will be less than originally expected.

Assistant superintendent Bill Long declined to comment further, saying he needed to speak with the project’s architect first.

The school district budgeted $20 million for the high school renovations and a total of $20 million for the projects at Center Grove Elementary and North Grove Elementary. Under Indiana law, school districts don’t have to ask voters to approve construction projects for elementary schools that don’t exceed $10 million or high school construction projects under $20 million.

Center Grove had planned to spend more than $1.6 million to create more secure entrances with vestibules at Sugar Grove Elementary, Pleasant Grove Elementary and the two middle schools. The vestibules would require anyone coming into the buildings to pass by the main office before getting into the rest of the building.

Last week the school board hired Indianapolis-based J M Rowland Construction to complete the work for just over $1 million.

Construction for the building projects at Center Grove Elementary and North Grove Elementary originally was expected to cost $8 million each, but construction at Center Grove Elementary should now cost just less than $7.7 million, while North Grove Elementary construction will run just more than $8 million, officials told the school board.

The high school construction was expected to cost about $16 million, but school officials now think construction will be less than $15.4 million.

Crews should start working on the Center Grove Elementary and North Grove Elementary projects in May, and those should be complete in about 18 months. Construction crews for the elementary and high school projects will create a work schedule so that loud, disruptive renovations aren’t happening while students are in class working on assignments or taking tests, school officials said.

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