Ashland-Greenwood PreK-2 building nears finish line

ASHLAND — If all goes to plan, Ashland-Greenwood teachers and staff will have begun the move into the district’s new PreK-2 building before the end of the calendar year.

The elementary school will be the first of three major projects that were included in the school district’s 2020 bond issue to reach the finish line. 

The project was delayed by about five months because of supply chain issues, but Superintendent Jason Libal said at the time that he expected the building to be in use by the second semester of the 2022-23 school year. Barring a setback, students will fill the building Jan. 5 when they return from winter break.

The only snag right now, Libal said, is making sure the water flowing to the building is safe. Tests thus far have come back with slightly elevated bacterial levels. 

Libal said the district is working with the City of Ashland, JEO Consulting Group, Graham Construction and Vincentini Plumbing to ensure the levels reach an acceptable level. Once the water passes the test, the building’s HVAC system will be able to run safely, and construction workers will be cleared to lay tile flooring. 

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“It’s just a series of testing that we need to get through, and we feel like we’re really, really close,” Libal said. 

To prepare for the move to the new building, the district’s current elementary school will end its semester Dec. 16, giving staff a few extra days to complete the move.

“We just felt like we needed to provide our staff members some additional time to make that transition,” Libal said. 

He and the Board of Education, however, got the chance to tour the building before the October school board meeting. Libal said he was most impressed with how well the project’s architect, DLR Group, listened to pre-build suggestions to construct a facility that fills its intended need. 

“It was really cool to see our staff members’ input, administrators’ input and board members’ input and see it really come to life in the building,” Libal said. 

He said it’s possible — and he’s hopeful that — the PreK-2 building will be ready to host an open house in December, but he acknowledged that construction is on a tight timeline. 

In other action, the board approved a contract amendment with DLR to allow the architecture firm to design a recording studio at the under-construction middle school facility in place of a small vocal group rehearsal space. The recording studio will be primarily used by band and choral students who will be able to record auditions for all-conference band and choir with professional tools in an acoustically treated room. 

Libal said the funding for the recording studio will likely be covered through donations.

The Ashland-Greenwood Performing Arts Center’s fundraising campaign is off and running smoothly, Libal said, having raised more than $3 million so far. According to the campaign’s website, the goal is to raise about $2 million more by next summer. 

The performing arts center’s current fundraising vehicle is the “Fund A Seat” initiative, which allows donors to “fund” an auditorium seat for $750, Libal said. Donors will have their name honored with a small plaque in the auditorium. Donations of any amount are still being accepted at agperformingarts.org.

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