Plans for more than $40 million in West York School District renovations began to crystallize Thursday night.

Lancaster-based Gilbert Architects presented the latest revisions to renovation plans for Wallace Elementary and West York Area High School, with an emphasis at both on secure entrances and expanded classroom space.

The community should expect major changes at the high school in particular, according to preliminary plans unveiled to the school board's facility committee. The school was built in the 1960s.

Architect Scott Adams said the existing gym would be reduced by about one-third to create space for new high school administrative space. The remainder of the gym would still be usable, primarily for the wrestling team.

In its place, a new gymnasium would be built as an addition to the school, big enough to fit 1,700 seats, three basketball courts and an indoor running track.

The size of the seating capacity impressed the board members; the existing gym is one of the smallest in the county, with about 600 to 700 fewer seats than what's proposed.

But there was some concern about how the addition would butt up against the football stadium. It would be so tight that, at least right now, there isn't a walkway between the edge of the gym fa├žade and the stadium fence. Gilbert Architects agreed to look at ways to amend that.


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Expanded cafeteria, too: Other proposed features include new space for technology teachers, a new locker room, a more secure entrance that forces visitors to pass through the administration area before entering the common area, and an expanded cafeteria.

"The cafeteria is one of the reasons this project is being undertaken," board member Bob Crouse Jr. told the architects.

The plan is to expand the cafeteria from about 5,400 square feet to 8,100 square feet, with a better flow for food service.

Adams emphasized that teachers have been asked for input along the way and have had suggestions incorporated into the design, such as a bigger space for music storage.

Wallace plans: At Wallace Elementary, geothermal heating and cooling, which uses groundwater to regulate building temperature, is under consideration.

Thomas Gilbert, president of Gilbert Architects, said it's likely a geothermal system would pay for itself in as little as a year.

As part of the renovation plans, all West York kindergarten and first-grade students would go to Wallace, located on High Street.

The building proposal adds about 29,000 square feet for a total of 62,400 square feet, with a side student drop-off area for parents.

"The separation of cars and buses is imperative for safety," Gilbert said.A new main entrance that forces visitors to go through the office to check in - just like the high school - is one of the noted features. Board members said they were happy to see that and even asked about considering other security features, such as ballistic glass.

"There's a balancing act between what's an appropriate measure and what's not," Gilbert said.

Town hall: Superintendent Emilie Lonardi said afterward that previous discussions to renovate the administration offices, which had included renovating an adjacent building they had purchased, are on hold for now, partly because of zoning issues.

Lonardi added that the price tag on the high school and Wallace renovations remains in flux because the plans have yet to be finalized.

The timeline for Wallace and the high school calls for construction to begin about this time next year or slightly later, with construction taking about two years. The high school project would be phased.

A town hall meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. at Wallace Elementary and Tuesday, March 26, at 6 p.m. at the high school, to inform people who live near those buildings.

- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com