By Kevin Kelley
In May 2010, Westlake voters passed, by a 55.4 to 44.6 percent margin, an $84 million bond issue to pay for the construction of two new schools and the renovation of a third.
On Tuesday, residents will have the opportunity to tour the first completed building, the new Lee Burneson Middle School, located at 2240 Dover Center Road.
A dedication ceremony will take place at 5 p.m., followed by an open house and tours from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Light refreshments and a slideshow of the project’s progression will be available in the cafeteria during the open house.
Twenty-five students will lead tours of the building, said Paul Wilson, the school’s principal.
“We just want to show everybody how the community supported us,” he said.
Many Westlakers have passed the new building while driving on Dover Center Road, Wilson noted. But the view from the street doesn’t convey how big it is, he said.
The new middle school, which will welcome about 640 students in grades seven and eight this fall, has 40 classrooms.
Like its predecessor, which is being renovated to serve as an intermediate school, the new Lee Burneson Middle School is named after the man who served as the district’s superintendent from 1924 to 1963.
Wilson believes the layout of the building was thought out well. Most academic classrooms are on the south side of the building, while the gymnasium, media center/library and art-related rooms are on the north side, the principal noted.
“I think it provides us with the flexibility to do a lot of things,” Wilson said. Thanks to some movable walls, some classrooms can be combined to serve as one huge classroom, he explained.
The cafeteria features a small elevated stage that can be used for meetings and other gatherings, he said.
The building also features wireless Internet access and a larger gymnasium. In addition, Reed Field, used for numerous athletic events in the district, has nearby locker rooms and a parking lot, Wilson said.
Work is continuing on the new Westlake High School, which will also open to students in September, district officials report. Demolition work on the old Westlake High School, located on the same Hilliard Blvd. property as the new structure, began earlier this month.
LEVY DISCUSSIONS: Westlake City School Board of Education members will meet twice early next week to discuss placing an operating levy on the November ballot. On Monday, board members will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the district’s administrative headquarters at 27200 Hilliard Blvd. On Tuesday, members will meet at 7:15 p.m. at the new Lee Burneson Middle School following the dedication and open house of the building.
In May, a 5.9-mill operating levy failed by 44 votes – 3,076 for (49.64 percent), 3,120 against (50.36 percent).
The district is in the process of implementing $930,000 in budget cuts in response to the levy’s defeat in May. Six bus drivers have already been laid off for the coming school year.