ST. JOHN | The new Lake Central High School and Protsman Elementary are coming into clearer focus this month.

Architects at Schmidt Associates Inc. of Indianapolis have begun design work for the two schools that were approved in a $160 million referendum by voters in November, and for the new track and athletic fields at Clark Middle School, which is being funded separately.

That firm will also provide engineering services.

Bill Ledyard, Lake Central School Corp. director of facilities, told the School Board that interviews are also being conducted with six construction management firms that made the finals.

Finalized architectural plans will be completed after meetings with teachers and staff at Lake Central High and Protsman, Ledyard said.

The new website chronicling design and construction phases is online at http://lcscprojects.blogspot.com. The website will be updated on a regular basis, he said.

What still needs to be done is meeting with town officials from Dyer, St. John and Schererville, where the three schools are, about what's needed for building permits to be issued.

Groundbreaking is slated at the end of May or beginning of June. The track at the existing high school and the property north and east of Protsman will be the first sites for construction.

The initial classroom block of the high school, the new high school central mechanical plant and the classroom area of the new Protsman Elementary are projected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

A major portion of the high school's new vocational wing and approximately half of the auditorium should be partially completed at that time.

Demolition of the existing high school and Protsman will begin in the summer of 2013. By fall, students will occupy the new classroom blocks at the high school and at Protsman.

Protsman is slated to be completed in the spring of 2014. Construction of the athletic and physical education areas at the high school also will begin then. Completion of the high school is expected one year later in the spring of 2015.