A $6.9 million construction and renovation project planned at the largest high school in Berkeley County will provide much-needed lunchroom space and hands-on opportunities to learn about culinary arts and sports medicine.

Lunchroom overcrowding is a big problem at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, which has more than 1,700 students, said Amy Kovach, district director of communications.

“It is enormously inadequate,” Kovach said of the cafeteria, which seats about 419 students.

The school serves lunch in shifts but some students still have trouble finding a seat and wind up eating in a hallway. The construction will add 253 lunchroom seats, she said.

“It’s not only a hygiene issue. It’s a safety issue. We don’t want them in a hallway,” she said.

The new cafeteria space will speed up lunch service and allow more time for instruction. It will also provide more space for after-school club meetings, she said.

A new culinary arts lab will accommodate up to 21 students at one time who will gain commercial cooking experience on state-of-the-art equipment.

Also, a 1,200 square-foot sports medicine lab with exercise equipment, therapy and taping tables and a whirlpool is planned. It will have 800-square-feet of adjoining classroom.

In addition, 14 trailers or “learning cottages” will be scrapped and replaced with a dozen permanent classrooms, which will make the school more secure, Kovach said.

Construction of the 34,000-square-foot addition is scheduled to begin in March and be completed in February of 2015. The current school space is 303,680 square feet.

During the project, criminal background checks will be done on all onsite workers, who will be separated from students, officials said.