leaders tour new Gilles-Sweet school
By Kevin Kelley
Published Feb. 14, 2007
recent cold spell has caused only minor problems in the construction
of the new Gilles-Sweet Elementary school, project manager Kevin
Klee of Regency Construction said.
Overall, the project is on budget and on time, he
Klee led members of Fairview Park City Council, the
Board of Education and other city leaders on a tour of the building,
located at West 220th Street and Alexander Road, Sunday afternoon.
“The winter spell stopped us cold — no pun intended,”
Klee said. But he added the entire structure will be covered with
a finished roof within days.
The new school, a major part of the $50 million Gemini
Project voters narrowly approved two years ago, will be open to
students in August.
Gemini Project proponents originally said the building
would host students in kindergarten through grade five. However,
the district decided to cancel plans to build an addition to Lewis
F. Mayer Middle School. As a result, sixth-graders will attend classes
at the new Gilles-Sweet.
Still officially undecided is where kindergarten students
will go. Kindergarten enrollment in the district begins this week.
If the district has a large number of kindergarten students for
the fall, they may attend classes at Parkview School on Mastick
Road. Today Parkview holds grades four through six, but next year
it will be home to the district’s pre-school and daycare programs
as well as administrative offices.
Superintendent Brion Deitsch said Sunday that the
most likely scenario is that kindergarten students will attend Gilles-Sweet.
A final decision from the district is expected by Thursday.
Some Gilles-Sweet classrooms were designed specifically
for kindergarten classes, Klee said during Sunday’s tour. The first-floor
kindergarten classrooms have their own bathrooms and some can be
divided by separators, he said.
Kevin Klee, project manager for Regency Construction (on the
right in the foreground), leads a tour Sunday afternoon of the
new Gilles-Sweet Elementary School now under construction. This
room is the school’s auditorium/cafeteria. Below: An opposite
view of the auditorium/cafeteria showing a performance stage
on the left. (Photos by Larry Bennet)
An auditorium with a production-capable stage doubles
as the cafeteria. The kitchen was built with expanded capabilities
in mind, Klee said.
“We’ve designed that kitchen to serve the whole district,”
Klee said, noting it can also provide food for Fairview High School
The gym, which has adjacent areas for storage and
physical education teacher offices, will have a wooden floor even
though state standards decree vinyl gym floors are adequate for
“We paid a little extra for it,” Klee said of the
yet to be installed wood floor, “but we got a real good deal from
Much of the second floor, like the north and west
sides of the first floor, has 900-square-ffot classrooms.
“The difference is the second floor is for the older
kids and they get lockers,” Klee said.
“It’ll be a real, real nice building when it’s finished,”
Klee said, adding that teachers and staff will begin moving into
offices in July.
The municipal portion of the Gemini Project
vote — a .5 percent increase in the city income tax to build the
community recreation center (now under construction just north of
the Fairview Park Library branch) — passed by only 59 votes out
of 5,693 ballots cast. The school portion, a capital improvement
levy to pay for construction of the new Gilles-Sweet Elementary
School, passed by a slightly more comfortable margin — 136 votes
out of 5,693 passed. However, both issues needed to be approved
for the project to go forward.
Jim Stark, who co-chaired the campaign to get the
Gemini Project passed by voters, said he believes community support
for will be much stronger than the vote indicated once residents
see the results of the effort.
“I think if you re-did the vote after the school opens
and after the (community recreation center) opens, it won’t be as
close as it was initially,” Stark said.
“Afterwards, it’s going to be kind of hard to find
people who say they voted against it,” said Robert Kreps, the other
Both were impressed with the tour of Gilles-Sweet.
“I think the main reaction anybody would have on a
first walk-through is ‘wow,” Kreps said. “It’s clearly going to
be a wonderful place for the kids to go to school.”
“You can tell it’s well thought out and well designed,”
Starks said. “And kids are going to be very excited and parents
are going to be very excited.”