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Board Reviews Plans for Proposed Middle School Project

Mars Area School Board is considering plans for a proposed construction and renovation project at Mars Area Middle School. 

At the Board’s June 12 meeting, Matthew Hansen of IKM Architects, presented Board members with concept designs for the project, which would include the construction of a new, two-story academic learning tower located in the parking area immediately adjacent to the building’s current main entrance.

The tower would include four “learning communities,” a concept that establishes a home base for students, who will spend 65- to 75-percent of their school day in the same academic space, where they will be better able to develop connections with their teachers and fellow students, said Hansen. Classroom space for Fine Arts, Family & Consumer Science and Applied Engineering Labs will be located at the central connection points of the new wing.

Once students would move into the new academic space, the southern end of the current school would be demolished and the existing building’s exterior would be updated.

The school’s main office and commons would also be renovated and a new, secure main entrance would be relocated to face Route 228. The school’s library would become a new “digital media center” and would also be located on the second floor above the main entrance to the school.

The Board is also considering an option for the construction of a 1,500-seat, varsity-sized gymnasium, which would be built on the southern end of the building.

If approved by the Board, the project would go out to bid in January 2019 and construction would begin in May 2019, said Hansen. The overall project would take approximately 17 months to complete and an additional eight months, if the gymnasium were to be built as part of the project.

Mars Area School Board began to examine the District’s options for improving Mars Area Middle School after reviewing a report by Thomas & Williamson: Program Management that identified more than $16 million in needed repairs to Mars Area Middle School’s HVAC system, plumbing, roof and other infrastructure. The school was originally constructed in 1969 and underwent renovations in both 1995 and 2001. 

The Board is expected to continue its discussions of the proposed project within the next few months. For more information, call (724) 625-1518.