Educational Foundation gives $200K for new Amherst Steele media center in 2016

Clark & Post Architects designing massive overhaul to high school space

By Jason Hawk -

UPDATE: Superintendent Steven Sayers cleared up a misconception about the project cost, saying the Foundation gift will not cover the entire project. See revisions below.

A $200,000 transformation this summer could bring new ideas and a re-imagined layout to the media center at Amherst Steele High School.

The Amherst Schools Educational Foundation has already fronted $30,000 to rebuild the learning space and plans to soon turn over the balance.

“They thought it was a great project for the community, the kids, and the staff,” district treasurer Barbara Donohue told the board of education in a meeting Monday.

The charitable trust was founded in 1986 and is administered by the Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County.

Started with just $500, today the fund exceeds $1.7 million.

Without the gift, the media center project cost was out of reach, said district superintendent Steven Sayers.

“Partnerships allow us to do things we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do on our own. This media center is another example,” he said.

In return, the Foundation will retain naming rights to the new space.

The gift will only be used for renovation while the district will pick up the cost of design specifications and engineering by Clark & Post Architects, said board of education member Rex Engle.

Sayers said there’s no definite price tag for the entire project at this point, but estimates put technology costs at $150,000 and furniture at another $150,000.

Plans are only in the conceptual stages now.

But they are being developed to include an “active learning pilot classroom” that shucks the confines of traditional learning spaces, said educational services director Michael Molnar and technology supervisor Mark Kostur.

They envision a media center that allows students to meet in small groups to solve problems, use presentation software, create videos, easily move around, and complete online coursework.

Teachers should also be able to use the space to upgrade their skills through professional development courses — and for the public to meet and tap the Amherst Schools’ resources.

Those ideas are modeled after new media center concepts at Mentor High School and Lorain County Community College.

Construction will be bid out starting in January or February, Sayers said.

Work will be done over summer break and the rejuvenated center — home to the school library, computer workstations, archives, and meeting areas — will open in August.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

Clark & Post Architects designing massive overhaul to high school space

By Jason Hawk