A growing student population and increasingly outdated program space posed a dilemma for the Mount Vernon Community School District: The original high school was no longer able to adequately support the curriculum, and the middle school was in desperate need of a new space, but the District was working with a tight budget. OPN worked with the District to devise a plan that located the new high school on a recently acquired property adjacent to the existing building and relocated the middle school to the existing high school building. The community passed a bond issue on the first attempt, generating $8,500,000 at a tax rate of $3.90/$1,000 of assessed valuation.
The original high school, built in 1971, was quickly transformed into the new middle school, with a centrally located library segregating the 5th and 6th grade and 7th and 8th grade students into two distinct academic areas. Minimal renovations were made to the building, including new ceilings, lighting, and flooring, and divvying the classroom wing into smaller classrooms more apt to the middle school curriculum, in turn creating a quieter learning environment.
The Mount Vernon Community School District needed a full-program high school on a modest budget. A square floor plan proved to be the most cost-effective while offering the most square footage of utilized space. In order to maximize natural light, classrooms and performing arts programs were placed around the perimeter, with the athletics programs and science labs, which require less natural light, in the core. The new building houses a complete high school program, including consumer science, business, industrial arts, special education, and visual arts spaces, as well as 12 classrooms and three science labs. The athletic program consists of a 1,200-seat gymnasium, four locker rooms, a wrestling room, a weight and fitness room, a coach’s area, and outdoor practice fields. The performing arts program includes vocal and instrumental classrooms and practice facilities. The new high school also houses a district-wide food service operation, student commons and a cafeteria, a media center, and administrative offices.
The design includes a geo-thermal well field and other energy-efficient mechanical features. In addition, the building is oriented and designed to maximize day lighting, while reducing the impact of solar heat gain.