Lawrence High School and Central Junior High School have more than 100 years of history between them, and they provide Lawrence residents with a strong sense of tradition.
However, school officials say, the aging schools don't always allow for the strongest educational program.
Central Principal Dan Jaimes says the limitations presented by a junior high school building that's nearly 70 years old can be seen on a day-to-day basis.
"It's not uncommon to have a situation that if a teacher in one room uses an overhead projector, the circuit breaker goes off, and that corner of the building loses its power," Jaimes said. "That interrupts instruction."
MEANWHILE, Lawrence High School has had so many additions since opening in 1954 that its present configuration is, in a word, unique. Because the school library sits between the school cafeteria and the rest of the building, students have to take a short jaunt outside just to go to lunch.
These and other problems at the district's two oldest secondary schools are the target of $12.2 million in renovations included in the district's $29.9 million bond issue proposal.
Central, 1400 Mass., which opened in 1923, is slated to receive $5 million in renovations. Cost estimates are still preliminary, but district officials have proposed spending:
$1.5 million to upgrade the school's mechanical and plumbing systems. That would include providing the school with central air conditioning.
$1.1 million to upgrade the school's electrical system.
$1 MILLION for interior finishes. About half of that cost would be for replacing walls and whatever else is torn up during work on the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.
$700,000 for space reconfiguration, which would bring the building into compliance with fire codes and with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
$600,000 for exterior renovations, including window work, roof replacement and masonry tuckpointing.
One plan would relocate the school's cafeteria from the third-and-a-half floor to the first floor. The present location makes the cafeteria inaccessible to students with physical disabilities, and getting supplies to the cafeteria is a chore as well.
Craig Fiegel, the district's director of business and facilities, said district workers this week had the "pleasure" of delivering a 300-pound milk cooler to the cafeteria.
JAIMES SAID he hopes the cafeteria project also could include the addition of a student commons area.
"Having a place to congregate and socialize is important for students at this age," Jaimes said.
Fiegel said installing an elevator at the school might be another way to make the building more accessible to students with disabilities.
With the building's many floors and half floors, "I'm not sure there's any way to make that building entirely accessible," Fiegel said. He said, however, that the ADA requires only that all programs, not the entire building, be accessible to all students, and the installation of an elevator would help to ensure that.
The proposed renovations for LHS, 1901 La., are basically the same ones that were proposed two years ago as part of a failed bond issue proposal to build a second high school. The $7.2 million in renovations would include spending an estimated:
$1.5 MILLION for an expanded library and a new commons area.
$1.4 million to update the school's electrical system.
$1.4 million for upgrading the school's appearance.
$1 million for air conditioning and other climate control.
$625,000 for upgrading locker rooms.
$500,000 for plumbing.
$200,000 for furnishings and equipment.
$30,000 for adding a greenhouse and animal care facility.
The estimated renovation costs for both Central and LHS also include money set aside for contingency.
The LHS estimates are based on preliminary design plans developed by Gould Evans Associates two years ago. The plans include adding hallways to provide a more circular student traffic flow. LHS Principal Brad Tate said student traffic is highly congested now because it is confined largely to one main corridor.
"I've been visiting with kids all year, and I hear about those crowded hallways," Tate said. "That renovation has got to help. It's going to change the traffic flow."
Although the proposed renovations do not provide bricks for more classrooms, Tate said the school could stand to gain about four additional classrooms by using the building's space differently than it is used now.
Fiegel said the district has not yet developed a definite timeline as to when the LHS and Central renovations could be completed.