ELEMENTARY ADDITIONS APPROVED
The district will begin adding space at the elementary schools this spring. Monday night, the Board of Education (BOE) approved the proposal to add four classrooms and associated spaces at each elementary in order to reduce the district's reliance on its 32 portable classrooms. The district will pay for the project out of a combination of reserve funds, a loan and operating funds at no impact to property tax bills.
This spring, all four schools will be construction zones in some capacity. The new spaces at Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin will be built first, and are expected to be ready for students to move in by January, 2015 after winter break. While some site work will begin this spring at Churchill and Forest Glen, construction on the actual additions at those two schools will start in spring of 2015 with expected occupancy in January, 2016.
The BOE has been discussing the plan since July, and has stressed the importance of parity among the schools. The basic plan for four 900-sq. ft. classrooms is consistent across the schools, with some variations due to the needs specific to each school. The rooms are arranged in pairs with movable, sound-deadening partitions in between them so that they also can be used as large spaces. Classrooms will have sinks and movable cabinetry.
Below are brief descriptions of the plans for each school. During or after the project, some portables will be relocated or retired. Portable retirement may not be a one-to-one equivalent to the number of new classrooms as space needs may change.
Abraham Lincoln: Four rooms will be added in two wings of two rooms each at the west end of the building. An open space between the wings will be a source of daylight, accommodate underground storm water detention and could be used as an outdoor learning area. Occupancy is expected by January, 2015.
Benjamin Franklin. Four rooms will be added west of the art/music rooms and gym. The additions are designed with adjacent courtyards that provide outdoor learning space and ensure that the rooms have plenty of daylight. The current asphalt will be extended so that it will retain its current size, just shifted to the west. Occupancy expected by January, 2015.
Churchill: Four classrooms, one art room and two bathrooms will be added on the northwest side of the building, roughly where one of the portable units is now located. The new corridor to the addition will use space currently part of the art room, so a new art room is part of the addition, with the existing music room extended into the remaining area of the old art room. Considerable site work is needed to raise the grade and manage storm water, which has long been an issue on the site. The existing playground areas will be rebuilt on a higher elevation. Occupancy is expected by January, 2016.
Forest Glen: Four classrooms will be added to the southwest side of the school along with storage areas. An underground storm water detention system will be added to accommodate the addition and allow for play space and outdoor learning space. Occupancy is expected by January, 2016.
The approximately $15 million project adds 27,000 sq. ft. of space, and is "Phase I" of a facilities solution; the BOE is developing a "Phase II" plan to address the remaining portables (including those at Hadley), resolve the building circulation and parking issues at Abraham Lincoln and provide space to allow the potential for programs such as all-day kindergarten. The BOE has talked about a number of approaches, such as building an elementary school, building a junior high or creating a magnet school, and has emphasized the importance of seeking input from the community to help shape the Phase II plans.
More information about the project and other facility matters is posted here.