Fairless to welcome students to new school this fall

Fairless to welcome students to new school this fall

When Fairless High students in grades 9-12 begin the 2023-24 school year on Aug. 22, they will enter the doors of a new 129,000-square-foot high school.


When Fairless High students in grades 9-12 begin the 2023-24 school year on Aug. 22, they will enter the doors of a new 129,000-square-foot high school. The ground-breaking for the new facility was held on a cold and snowy day in April 2021.

Construction began in May 2021. Superintendent Broc Bidlack said on the last week of the 2022-23 school year, the teachers will move materials and other items into the new school. He said there are 30 high school teachers.

On July 31 Bidlack is officially retiring after 11 years at the helm. Bidlack retired in early 2022 and was rehired for one year.

“I wanted to see the new school completed. This year gave me that opportunity,” Bidlack said.

Michael Hearn was named superintendent in February 2022 to lead the district after Bidlack retires. Hearn has served as director of curriculum, instruction and special programs.

“This year allowed Broc to focus on the construction of the new school. The community will be pleased he could work to get that accomplished,” Hearn said. “The No. 1 focus is to make sure the transition into the new facility goes as smoothly as possible. There were 45 individuals on a committee to put together a mission and a strategic plan for the board of education to approve in April. Our vision statement is ‘Fairless is the community where families want to learn, live, work and grow.’

“As I work to implement our strategic plan, this vision statement is the lens in which I intend to take the district in the future.”

When the dream began and how it progressed

Bidlack said the dream began in 2014 when the district was informed a Rover Natural Gasline project was planned to be installed throughout the district. A discussion was held with Mark Phillips, district treasurer, about the possibility of constructing a new high school with pipeline funds. In 2017 the Rover project was underway.

“The community was not asked to pass a bond issue. Funds from Rover would construct and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission would construct the new facility,” Bidlack said.

Lesko and Associates of Westlake, Ohio was contracted as the architect on the project. The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission approved the project in 2019 through the Expedited Local Partnership Program.

Bidlack said the district completely funded the project up front. The total cost for the new facility is $34 million with the OFCC providing $13 million toward the project. The remaining $21 million is tax revenue from the Rover Natural Gas pipeline.

“I was determined not to allow the pandemic to delay our progress on our dream of a new high school, so with the assistance of Lesko and our staff, we held many Zoom video conferences to continue our planning,” Bidlack said.” Regency Construction of Lakewood, Ohio was hired as the construction management risk team.”

The new front entrance will feature a Wall of Excellence kiosk. About $20,000 was donated from the Fairless Alumni Association in memory of the late Chris Belloni, a Fairless High alumni. Bidlack said the kiosk will allow anyone to access the web by using a touch screen tab, and they will be able to look at all the information about Fairless.

“There will be historical facts, hall of honor, yearbooks, board of education minutes, and alumni from other states will be able to access the information,” Bidlack said.

About the interior of the high school

According to Bidlack, there are three components to the new high school: an athletic wing, a two-story academic wing, and the main gym, cafeteria, auditorium, music and fine arts area.

There will be two administration offices consisting of the high school office and board of education office, which includes a separate entry and parking.

In the east end, there will be a concession stand and public restrooms for Brideweser Stadium events.

According to Bidlack, there will be gathering stairs where students can sit in a relaxed area, and classrooms will feature special seating and all the technology devices to benefit students. There are individual desks and chairs along with tiered seating, which includes regular-height desks and smaller desks. Some desks are shaped differently to create a cluster for studying and discussions.

The average classroom size is about 810 square feet. The auditorium will seat over 500 and feature an orchestra pit, a full-fly stage, and processing, prop and scenery rooms. There will be the latest sound equipment and acoustics installed in the auditorium, along with air-conditioning throughout the entire facility.

In the cafeteria students will have tables, booths or café-style tables.

Safety features include student check-ins and check-outs, cameras and door sensors will be installed, and each classroom with have a telephone available for teachers.

Other features in the school are instrument and vocal practice rooms, a storage area, and a direct access for students to enter at the back of the stage. There will be lockers, a training weight room and storage in the athletic wing, along with an auxiliary gymnasium.

“Throughout the building the Fairless colors of off-white, blue and gray will be used. The high school gym floor is being installed by a Cincinnati company and will feature a block F in the center, and the three-point circle will be gray. I do not want to supply a lot of details about the gym as I want it to be a surprise,” Bidlack said.”

The basketball court will be named The Nest.

Bidlack said the OFCC did not provide funds for public restrooms, concession stands for outdoor events and the locker rooms. The auditorium also is a locally funded initiative, and the cost was absorbed by the district.

The vehicle traffic pattern will change. It will separate student traffic from the bus traffic to have a better flow and for safety factors.

In 2019 the district received funding from the Rover Natural Gas pipeline and was able to convert the grass playing surface at Fairless High Brideweser Stadium into artificial turf. The district entered into a contract with the Vasco Group to turn the real grass into FieldTurf at a cost of $689,475.

Grades 9-12 have about 425 students in the high school every day, and 125 attend R.G. Drage Career Center in Massillon. The district consolidated in the mid-1960s and is made up of four villages — Brewster, Beach City, Navarre and Wilmot — along with Sugar Creek and Bethlehem townships.

Construction on the current high school began in 1964 at 11885 Navarre Road in Brewster. The first graduating class was in 1967. Voters approved a bond issue for $1.5 million to construct the former school.

According to Bidlack, at the end of May, Dutton Auctioneers will have an online auction for contents of the former high school building, which will include loose furnishings, kitchen supplies, and teacher and office desks.

He said there will be a decommissioning event on the last day of school, and the community will be able to walk through the building. Demolition is set to begin June 19 and will be completed in September.

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load