Salem High School renovation designs unveiled

Students, parents tour current rundown building, see new plans

SALEM, Va. – After 29 years, Spartan graduate Shanda Johnson says not much has changed at Salem High School, but that's about to change.

On Thursday, school officials held tours of the current building and unveiled designs for the $36 million renovation.

"The main areas are all the same," Johnson said.

Jennifer Becker and her brother, Tim Hicks, are both alumni. She said the school even smells the same.

"No, it doesn't look any different," Johnson said.

That won't be true for long. Designs for the first phase of the renovation include classroom additions in the front and back of the building.

Next, crews would build a new secure main entrance and administration offices, a second-story library and common area for students with lockers, laptop charging stations and comfortable seating.

Finally in phase three, crews would widen hallways, add new carpeting and ceiling tiles and upgrade existing classrooms.

Other design features include bringing in more natural sunlight and building an enclosed courtyard.

"I think it's awesome," said Peggy Lovecchio, a parent.

Her son is going to be a freshman in the fall, and her only concern is how construction might be a disruption for students.

"Is there going to be a lot of hammering?" Lovecchio said. "Hopefully, that's not the case."

Students and teachers won't use trailers during construction. By working in phases, school officials can move teachers and students to the new additions before tackling renovations in the heart of the school.

Johnson's three daughters will all be Spartans, too. She's happy they're following in her footsteps, but she's more excited for the changes they'll see before they graduate.

"I think it's great that they get to go to the school that I went to," Johnson said. "I think that's neat."

In order to pay for the project, city officials are proposing a 0.02-cent raise in real estate taxes, a 0.15-cent raise in personal property taxes and a $3 per month raise in the trash collection fee.

A family with a $200,000 home and $15,000 car would pay about $98 more a year.

City council is holding a public hearing on June 10 before voting whether or not to approve the tax increase.

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