Whitaker Elementary School was originally built in 1935 as a two story building. The original entry was on Winton Road. It is named after Telford Whitaker who was a teacher, principal, and superintendent from 1930 to 1965. That original building had 14,490 square feet and housed grades 1-8. At that time, kids went to Hughes, Mt. Healthy, or Wyoming for high school. A 28,294 square foot addition was added in 1953, tripling the size of the building. Finneytown was growing quickly so needed more space. In 1956, just three years later, another addition of 9,664 sq. ft. was added. About that time the state decided if a district didn’t offer high school, it would have to be combined with another district. Finneytown built the current secondary campus and started offering high school. We became a 1-12 school district.
In 1997, a third and final addition was built onto Whitaker. This time 13,636 sq. ft. was added. The current building has 66,084 sq. ft. in total. If you haven’t been in Whitaker, you should take a tour. It is obvious it has been added onto. Halls go up and down, there are three different basement areas that don’t connect.
As happens with older buildings, renovations have been made to help with handicap accessibility but it is very hobbled together. There is no central air and the central heat is sporadic. Because of additions and rooms being divided, air flow is not optimal. Just last fall, we had to close school because it was over 105 degrees in most of the classrooms. Our maintenance department has been diligent in maintaining the equipment and infrastructure. When Cottonwood was torn down, our maintenance people scavenged every usable part and have been using them as replacement parts. Things like hinges and door knobs or blinds and window glass have all been used to maintain and repair Whitaker and other buildings in the district. Those parts and pieces have all been used. When a heating unit failed last winter, we discovered that parts are no longer even available for the unit. Our maintenance people were able to fabricate parts to keep it going. We were not so lucky on some of the other break downs over the winter but I’ll discuss that more tomorrow.