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Woodsdale Elementary School Work Discussed

Photo by Joselyn King Ohio County Board of Education member Grace Norton, left, examines plans for a new layout of classrooms at Woodsdale Elementary School. Thomas Wippenbeck, regional manager of architectural services with McKinley and Associates, points out the details.

WHEELING — School officials are excited about a $5.4 million renovation at Woodsdale Elementary School, but they also know months of growing pains and parking issues are part of the plan.

Those living in the Woodsdale neighborhood were invited to a public hearing Tuesday night to learn more about upcoming construction there, and how it will affect traffic flow and parking in the community.

Principal Ashlea Minch began the hearing by announcing the school district has requested a variance to allow six temporary parking spots in front of the school — two of which will be designated as handicapped spots.

City laws do not permit parking in front of structures in historical districts such as Woodsdale

The variance is expected to be discussed when the Wheeling Board of Zoning Appeals next meets at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 21, Minch said.

The plan being proposed is for a grassy area between the sidewalk along U.S. 88 and the school’s bus circle to be asphalted, and the six temporary parking spots to be installed.

Grassy areas to the left and right of the bus circle entrance and exit will not be affected, and will remain in place.

The school’s sign will be removed, and a new one will be placed elsewhere, according to Minch.

There are 50 full-time staff members at Woodsdale Elementary School, as well as eight traveling teachers and sometimes student teachers working at the school.

That means often as many as 60 people need places to park at or near the school, and there are only 28 parking spaces on the school property.

A major issue is where the staff will park as construction happens at the school, and where construction crews also will be placed.

“We are exploring options for anywhere in the neighborhood,” Minch explained. Three ideas are being considered.

Ohio County Schools may consider renting spots behind the Panepinto Law Offices at 995 National Road for at least the next year, while a second option could have staff parking at Doctors Urgent Care at 24 Homestead Ave.

Lastly, staff could be asked to car pool and reduce the need for parking at the school.

Meanwhile, Thomas Wippenbeck, regional manager of architectural services with McKinley and Associates, displayed blueprints for how the school will be reconfigured.

Work to expand the current cafeteria will involve removing a wall, but won’t touch the existing playground that already has been renovated, he said.

Inside, the school’s interior will get a new layout and flow, and classrooms will be reconfigured to be the same size. Some currently are as large as 1,200 square feet, while others are as small as 600 square feet.

Demolition at the school is set to begin over Christmas break, with students returning to makeshift classrooms that will be set up in the school’s media center and other areas not undergoing construction. Construction is expected to last a year.

The work will be paid for through a $42.2 million bond issue passed by voters in 2018.

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