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After years of discussions, studies and steering committee meetings, the Dover Area school board has decided to build a new high school.

Board members voted 7-2 at their regular board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 20, to “approve and support the construction” of a new Dover Area High School on the grounds of the current intermediate school and renovate the current high school building to house intermediate students.

Board members Terry Emig and Charles Rauhauser cast dissenting votes against the measure.

The building project is capped at nearly $65 million, according to the final School Construction and Facilities (PlanCon) proposal also approved Tuesday night for submission to the Department of Education.

The 290,000-square-foot high school will include two stories of classrooms surrounding a courtyard on the western part of the campus, with one central entrance for increased security, according to a summary of the project.

More: Dover school board moves forward on building project

Large program spaces, including the school’s gymnasium, natatorium and auditorium, will be on the west side of campus for more sectioned access during after-school hours.

New athletic fields — including a new baseball field and multipurpose playing field — will be built, according to the public hearing summary.

Dover school board President Nathan Eifert said board members, district administrators and staff have put in "tremendous work" over three years to get to the point of voting on the project.

"It's a challenge," he said of the financial impact that accompanies the project. "However, when you look at the situation that we are in ... this is probably the best option."

Board member Charles Rauhauser voiced his opposition to the project because of its increased strain on senior citizens residing in the district, often on fixed incomes.

"We're the ones that are going to suffer," he said.

During public comment, several district residents spoke of the building project, with most speaking in favor of the proposal.

Speaking against the project, district resident John Peters reminded board members that the majority of comments made at a public hearing on the project in January were "strongly against" moving forward.

More: Dover residents rebuke plan for new high school at public hearing

Eifert responded by saying an overwhelming majority of written comments submitted after the hearing were in support of the project, holding up a stack of papers that he said included nearly 80 letters of support.

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What’s next: With the thumbs-up from the school board, the district will finish preparing and submitting final construction documents to the Department of Education, the three municipalities it covers — Dover, Dover Township and Washington Township — and the state Department of Transportation for regulatory approval.

In April, both projects will go out to bid with an eye toward breaking ground in July and a targeted completion date of summer 2020.

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