Saline Area Schools Improvements Include STEAM Center

Saline Area Schools (SAS) approved $14.7 million dollars for the construction of the STEAM center and weight room at Saline High School.

“The Saline Board of Education approved funding for several bond-funded projects including the Operations Center, currently under construction, the high school STEAM Center and weight room additions, expected to begin construction this summer, and upgrading classroom audio/visual equipment in three buildings across the district this summer,” Executive Director of Communications and Community Relations Jackelyn Martin said.

“These projects are phase 1 of the $180 million bond passed by voters in November 2022,” Martin said. “We are extremely thankful to the community for their support of our students and schools.”

While some of the construction is already underway, more will begin in about a month.

“Construction is already underway for the Hornet Operations Center, a new building on Tefft Court in Saline,” Executive Director of Operations Rex Clary said. “Construction will begin on the high school additions on April 1 with some earthwork and fencing preparations the week of Saline’s spring break (starting March 25). The STEAM Center addition will be south of the main gymnasium at the high school and the weight room addition will be north of the auxiliary gymnasium at the high school.”

According to Clary, the Hornet Operations Center is scheduled to open in winter 2025, providing office space for the Transportation and Buildings and Grounds departments, bus maintenance facilities, a bus wash and grounds and equipment storage. The relocation of the departments to the new Operations Center will allow the existing spaces at Saline Middle School to be renovated. New renovations at the site of the current Operations Department will feature a STEAM Center for our middle school students, middle school athletic facility upgrades, traffic flow improvements around the central campus, a new Cosmetology Training Center for the South and West Washtenaw Consortium and enhancements to the Saline Senior Center.

Various contractors are involved as well.

“We work closely with Clark Construction, Lecole Planners, Kingscott Architects, A.R. Brower, Hobbes and Black and Barton Malow along with their subcontractors,” Clary said. “The team meets together weekly to ensure efforts are coordinated.”

It is important for the Saline Community to designate the improvements as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) rather than STEM (without the Arts.)

“Saline’s vision is that science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) programming will support students in developing a design-thinking mindset anchored in empathy, research, creativity and solving real-world problems that will equip them to thrive in a global society and benefit the broader community,” Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Kara Davis said.

According to Davis, The STEAM Center will be constructed on the front (south) side of the building, with a connection to the main gym. This space is designed to promote mixed-use across many departments, clubs, and groups at the high school, as well as be available for Community Education activities and rentals. The STEAM Center includes a flex space to host larger events with the ability to seat approximately 125 people, an open collaboration classroom outfitted with small group meeting rooms, a robotics practice field, and dedicated workshop spaces designed for STEM programs like robotics and science olympiad.

“We anticipate the center will see a great deal of use both during and beyond the school day,” Davis said.

According to Davis, the weight room is a separate space and will be constructed on the north side of the building, with a connection to the existing auxiliary gym. The new weight room will triple the footprint of the existing weight room to help the district meet increased demand by athletic teams and PE classes before, during and after school.

“Saline Schools has award-winning programming in both athletics and STEAM, exemplifying our commitment to fostering excellence across a wide range of disciplines,” Davis said. “The district values the diverse opportunities for student excellence and is striving to create the best possible conditions for ongoing growth and development in these areas.”

New classrooms are not part of the additions.

“Traditional classrooms are not part of the design for the new STEAM Center at the high school,” Davis said. “Instead, the project will see flexible spaces, workshops, robotics practice fields and collaboration rooms supporting a wide variety of STEAM-related programming.”

According to Davis, phases two and three of the 2022 bond include the expansion of STEAM spaces in additional buildings across the District.

Davis added that the Saline district is dedicating resources to enhance STEAM facilities for all grades, kindergarten through 12th, aiming to provide exceptional in-school opportunities as well as creating additional access and support for club and extracurricular experiences. This initiative is designed to broaden access to STEAM pathways for every student within the SAS system.

There are also increased audio-visual updates scheduled for the summer.

“This summer, we will be updating audio/visual systems in all of our classrooms in three of our buildings, Woodland Meadows, Harvest and Pleasant Ridge,” Director of Technology Jay Grossman said. “This phase will include replacing aging projectors and sound amplification systems and adding wireless projection technology in approximately 85 classrooms. The remaining four buildings will be updated in the next phase of the project, taking place during the summer of 2025.”

According to Grossman, the package included funding for technology in their new Operations Center and additions at the high school including audio/visual packages, door access controls, security cameras and fiber optic internet cabling to the new Operations Center.

The Saline area schools also received a good deal of input from the community  on the renovations.

“Community members, including staff, students and other community stakeholders, have been involved in the process for many months, both as we weighed priorities for the bond, and after the bond was passed as we started moving into the design phases,” Marin said. “We are excited to see ideas come to life.”

Martin added that the renovations and additions at the High School will impact building access and traffic patterns as students return to campus following Spring Break.

“More announcements will be coming to the community soon,” Martin said. “We know that with any construction or improvement, we also must endure the construction phase, and greatly appreciate the community’s patience and flexibility as we embark on this journey.”

The Saline Superintendent acknowledged the hard work of everyone involved.

“Our team has been doing an incredible job in helping to envision, design and implement these bond-funded additions,” Superintendent Dr. Stephen D. Laatsch said. “We are very thankful for the tremendous community support we have received in passing this $180 million bond millage. We are excited to see the hard work come to fruition so that our students will have state-of-the-art facilities in which to learn, collaborate and compete.”


Recent Articles