New Science Lab Bumps Classes to Basement

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Teachers and students have been displaced as renovations convert Rooms 259 and 260 into a new science lab.

“It’s more an emotional disruption than an academic disruption,” said Team English teacher Robin Taylor, whose class was moved to the basement.

The lab will accommodate new Ohio graduation requirements, mandating three years of a lab science for the class of 2014 onward, rather than two.

“That’s 100 percent of our students,” Business Administrator Robert Kreiner said, “and 80 percent of our students will take four years.” With eight new International Baccalaureate lab courses as well, “we don’t have enough science labs to hold the increased number of students.”

The renovations began in May to complete the rooms by mid-August, allowing teachers to move back in before school starts, according to Kreiner. Teachers relocated for the renovation were notified four days before they had to move.

The construction team chose Rooms 259 and 260 because they are near a bathroom, so the floor already has plumbing for laboratory equipment. The rooms are also connected. One room of the finished lab will be a lecture space; the other will contain laboratory materials. Next year, “it’ll be used for the seven Honors Physical Science classes,” Science Department Chairwoman Katherine Brown said.

Rooms 162 and 163’s ceiling is under construction to add a gas line for the new lab above it. English teacher Susanna Jackson teaches in Room 163 and removed all posters.

“Whereas we had a home atmosphere before, now it feels like a foreign space,” Jackson said. “It looks unfinished, like a temporary residence.”

Formerly, Room 260 was a small computer lab, while Room 259 was an English and social studies classroom. “We’ll replace [Room 260] with a rolling set of laptops,” Principal Michael Griffith said. Classes from Room 259 will be moved to Rooms 16, 18 and 20.

Sophomore Mikayla Gibbs’ Team English class was moved. “It was more comfortable upstairs,” she said.

While most class sizes have increased, science is prioritized for safety issues. “Science classes that include labs were operating at a size that is unsafe,” Griffith said. Most exceed the National Science Teachers Association’s limit of 24 students.

Accordingly, Taylor does not mind being relocated. “Everybody wants to have smaller classes, but the science issue is a legal issue,” she said. “Whatever they need to use the classroom for, for the students, is what they should use the classroom for.”

A version of this article appeared in print 5 June 2013 on page 3 of The Shakerite.

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