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Preliminary plan calls for razing much of Chartiers Valley complex

| Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, 11:00 p.m.

A new Chartiers Valley middle and high school complex could feature learning towers to replace two circular classroom buildings that date to the 1970s, an architect said.

Lee Fenton of BLRB Architects presented preliminary layouts to school officials and residents Tuesday that call for razing much of the complex off Thoms Run Road in Collier. The firm, with offices in Washington and Oregon, is a consultant.

Architects plan to continue meetings with groups studying the project and make a presentation to the school board on Jan. 28.

If a concept is chosen in early February, schematic designs could begin, and the district could hire a construction manager, officials said. Work could begin in summer 2016 and be done in phases, with a middle school being built first. No cost estimate was given.

The most notable change would be eliminating the circular structures and building learning towers as main academic areas, Fenton said.

The high school's two towers each would be four stories. Each floor would have two sections, both with four learning studios, a learning commons and a science lab. The high school would keep its gymnasium, pool and auditorium.

The middle school tower would be three stories.

“Taking a 1,200-student population broken down to 150 kids per section creates a much better chance of making a real connection and having meaningful relationships established between students and teachers and students and students,” said Matt Hanson, an associate with IKM Inc., a Downtown-based architecture firm leading the project.

Officials have said the existing middle-high school is inefficient and lacks natural light, and they envision a more student-centered, flexible space.

Superintendent Brian White said he has focused on making sure discussions include community members. Close to 20 meetings have been held since August.

Tricia Haberman, a Scott resident with a third-grader, said she is happy to see plans that separate the two schools. “Having less interaction between sixth-graders and 12th-graders is very good,” she said.

Alex Felser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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