ASHTON – Shovels will send the dirt flying Thursday afternoon as the Ashton-Franklin Center School District breaks ground on its $7 million, 25,000-square-foot gym and fine arts addition to the junior-senior high school.
The addition, being built on the west side of the school at 611 Western Ave. will have two full-size basketball/volleyball courts, bleachers along three walls that will seat 1,200, and a balcony for the media, as well as new choral and band rooms.
The expansion will allow AFC to host basketball and volleyball tournaments, and will give the fine arts programs dedicated rooms for practice.
The current, 61-year-old gym can seat only 500 – not enough to host tournaments – and barely could accommodate P.E. classes, or practice for the junior and senior high students.
“We had an antiquated gym, to say the least,” Superintendent John Zick said.
Because the new building also will have two rooms dedicated to fine arts, the band and chorus no longer will have to practice in the multipurpose room that’s also used for lunch.
“This is a tremendous upgrade, to have their own designated room,” Zick said. “I’m really excited what its going to add to our fine arts program.”
The work also will include a resurfaced parking lot and new terrazzo flooring in the school’s foyer.
The expansion is being paid for with a 20-year alternate revenue bond that will be paid with money from the countywide 1 percent sales tax.
In addition, the district will pay off other bonds in December 2019, and that money then can be applied to this project, Zick said.
“With the county sales tax and bonds coming off the books, we knew we could do this without increasing the local tax rate.”