By Sue Botos
School may be out for the summer, but not for those working on the renovation of Rocky River High School. Officials promise the instructional areas will be ready for the Aug. 27 return of students.
“Everything is progressing quickly,” reported Superintendent Michael Shoaf recently by phone. He said that by the time school is back in session, the final wing of new first floor classrooms will be finished with new paint, HVAC units, flooring, furniture and ceiling tiles. The latter is especially welcome, noted Shoaf, after about two years of exposed wires and ductwork hanging above the school’s hallways.
In addition, the auditorium will have a new sound system and the entire building will have wireless access.
“The trees have come down, but they will be replaced,” Shoaf said, referring to work on the Wagar Road parking lot and entrance, which called for the removal of some mature trees that had shaded the lot. When complete, the Wagar entrance will be used by students and for athletic events. The larger vestibule will house a ticket and spirit wear shop, plus a revamped Hall of Fame.
The main gym will also receive a major face-lift with a new floor, bleachers, lights, scoreboards and main court basketball backboards. Upgrades will additionally be made to the Wagar gym and the natatorium, which will get new bleachers, lights, lifeguard chairs, paint and a diving board.
“Everything except the landscaping and some noninstructional areas will be done before the start of school,” Shoaf stated.
While all of this work continues to be financed by the bond issue passed by voters in 2010, there will not be much left for outdoor landscaping projects. That’s where the Campus Project, headed by parents and residents, comes in.
“We all want a beautiful school, but the last place we want to put the citizens’ money is in landscaping,” commented school board facilities Chairman Jay Milano. He said that the Campus Project will fund not only plantings, but retention ponds in parking areas, which will help lessen stormwater runoff, and the replacement of trees. Milano said that the sale of trees, benches and other items will offset the cost of general landscaping.
According to the Campus Project’s Dave Furry, $53,000 worth of personalized pavers have been sold, covering the cost of landscape work around the school’s Detroit Road entrance, which had been virtually unused in recent years. The Detroit Road entrance will now serve as the visitor entry.
Furry added that a single resident, who for now prefers to remain anonymous, donated $40,000 for the renovation of the courtyard between the art and science wings. There were three sections on the Wagar side of the building available for “adoption,” according to Furry, and one has been purchased for $15,000. Naming rights for Pirate Stadium are still available, he reported.
“Our final pipe dream is the science courtyard,” stated Furry, agreeing with Milano that before anything can be accomplished in this area, which is overlooked by the new student commons, the old smokestack must be removed. That structure has not been functional for years, and school officials are unsure of its original purpose.
“If, at the end of the project, we can find enough money to take down the smokestack, we will do it,” Milano said. School officials have estimated that razing the structure could cost about $100,000, and would probably include the removal of asbestos.
Furry said that once major landscaping projects are completed, a second drive may be conducted for the replacement of items such as “memorial trees” that were removed, though their plaques have been preserved.