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Plans for new school move forward

The Sunnyside School Board took a major step towards the construction of a new middle school Monday night.

The board approved the square footage proposal made by Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole last night, making the district eligible to receive state-matching construction dollars.

Construction of the new middle school, located along Washout Road, is expected to begin around the middle of next year. Plans call for it to be completed in time for the 2005-06 school year.

Cole told the board when the process for constructing a new school began last year, he was looking at about a 76,000 square foot building. The proposal directors approved Monday night was for 78,033 square feet.

Cole said some of the extra square footage comes from extra storage room and a larger commons area.

When the design of the new school was being looked at, Cole said it was the desire to have classrooms comparable in size or larger than the ones currently at Harrison Middle School. Cole said such areas as the art, technology, library and special education rooms are either equal in space or larger than the rooms currently at Harrison Middle School.

The first year in the new middle school will be a bit different, said Cole. The district will split the sixth and seventh grade classes between the new middle school and Harrison Middle School. Next year, the eighth grade class will be completely housed at Harrison Middle School while the district finishes building a 9,895 square foot addition to the new school. The district will also be constructing a 3,450 square foot auxiliary gymnasium. Once the new addition is complete, the district will split the eighth grade class up to be housed at both middle schools.

Cole said the district is finishing the eighth grade addition in a separate phase to take advantage of state matching funds. If the district went ahead and built the additional classes, it would cost taxpayers another $1.5 million with no state matching funds being received.

When the eighth grade addition is complete, the new middle school will comprise 90,000 square feet, comparable with the 103,000 square feet of space at Harrison Middle School. Both middle schools will house roughly 660 students, estimated Cole.

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