Officials planning high school, middle school renovations |

Officials planning high school, middle school renovations

SUMMIT COUNTY – Two schools are better than one.At least that’s what a design advisory group of parents, school staff and architects thinks when they envision a newly rebuilt and renovated Summit Middle School.The committee, which has met twice since the November election when voters approved funding for the building’s overhaul, imagines two small subschools that share common areas like a media center and art classrooms.”We’re looking at research-based designs that really support the intimate, caring and safe environment that smaller learning communities can offer,” SMS principal Iva Katz-Hesse said.If the two-school concept comes to fruition, SMS would be part of a national trend to create smaller learning environments for students, according to superintendent Millie Hamner.

“Studies show numerous benefits, including an improved school climate, greater individualized attention for students, higher attendance rates, fewer discipline issues and higher achievement,” Hamner said.Staff also assert that having two small schools would provide an easier transition to middle school for students coming from the district’s six small, neighborhood elementary schools. Other advantages include opportunities for student-to-student mentoring among grade levels and enhanced supervision and safety in the school building, according to the design committee.

The committee, including architects and construction project managers, will host a parent meeting Thursday evening in the school’s media center to solicit feedback on the concept. Katz-Hesse said she’s hoping elementary school parents will attend, since their children will be some of the first to attend the new school once it is complete.Plans for an addition to Summit High School, also funded by the voter-approved bond measure, are in the works as well. The SHS design committee has proposed a new career and technical wing that would include space for six programs: video production, business, construction technology, culinary arts, computer science and medical prep.

The design team, led by Slaterpaull Architects, will soon develop a schematic design and hold a public meeting to gather feedback on a preliminary floor plan.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or

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