Elizabethtown area students head back to class

Students arrive at the Elizabethtown Area High School/Elizabethtown Area Middle School complex. (Photo courtesy of Elizabethtown Area School District)

- When: School board meeting, Aug. 13.

- What happened: The board learned more details about the planned renovation of the lower level of the Elizabethtown Area Middle School. The level is to house the sixth grade, now at Bear Creek School, starting in the 2021-22 school year. Grace Heiland of the Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates architectural firm presented updated plans that also included the possibility of upgrading the middle school gymnasiums and expanding the cafeteria, which is shared by the middle school and high school.

- Details: The lower-level project, originally with six classrooms plus collaborative learning space, previously had an estimated cost of $4.5 million. But with the addition of two classrooms, the conversion of unused locker rooms into a physical education space and a new sprinkler system, the price tag is now $6 million. Greater Elizabethtown Area Recreation and Community Services will vacate offices on the middle school’s lower level, but the rifle range and wrestling room will remain. The additional classrooms would allow two of the three sixth-grade teams to remain on the same level, Heiland said. Also, a sprinkler system for the entire lower level was going to be added during a planned future renovation to the high school/middle school building, so it made sense to add it now, she said.

- Gyms: Renovations to the middle school gymnasiums and the cafeteria are not part of the base $6 million cost. Proposals for the main and auxiliary gymnasiums include air conditioning, new and refurbished flooring, new padding and basketball goals, fixing damaged walls, replacing block glass with windows and replacing the roof and pavers at the exit. All these fixes would total more than $500,000.

- Cafeteria: Heiland also presented options for expanding capacity for 300 more students in the cafeteria, which has separate seating areas for high school and middle school. The low-end option calls for turning the former dish room into an additional 1,000 square feet of cafeteria space. The high-end option would be a more extensive renovation with a food court serving both high school and middle school; it would add 2,000 square feet. That cost, $2.5 million, would include upgraded kitchen equipment.

- What’s next: The board will vote on the $6 million design for the middle school lower level at its Aug. 27 meeting.