Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Design makes large friendly

October 18, 2007

A new 1,000-student elementary school in Eudora might not be that scary after all.

Making size manageable is the driving force behind the design for a building that could house the district's first- through fifth-graders as early as the fall of 2009 should a $45 million bond referendum pass Nov. 6.

Bond architect Kevin Greischar of DLR Group presented the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education Thursday with new renderings of the proposed building.

If the bond passes, the $27 million school will be built on 46.6 acres southwest of the intersection at 10th and Peach streets. The proposed school would replace the deteriorating Nottingham Elementary School as an attendance center.

"We don't really have anything like this in our designs anywhere,"Greischar said. "This will be a new school to us, DLR, and to the area."

Welcome to the neighborhood

The proposed building consists of five separate pods, or neighborhoods, surrounding one common area.

The campus will have the capacity to educate up to 1,000 students, with each five-classroom neighborhood would accommodating 200 students.

"I think the basic concept of the building is really collaboration and keeping everything in components that young kids can really recognize and feel comfortable with," Greischar said. "Even though we have a thousand kids in there, they are going to have their own neighborhood."

The central area, or Main Street, will have library, gymnasium and cafeteria areas that will be shared by all the grades, Greischar said.

"We have a very simple building form that makes it easy for kids to recognize things," he said.

In addition to the five classrooms, each neighborhood will have a shared discovery area.

Shared areas between the classrooms will be built to make collaboration between teachers easier. The discovery area also will make lessons involving larger projects possible.

"It's not intended to be a presentation area," Greischar said. "It's intended to be an area for the teacher to bring two class groups together or three class groups together."

The firm brought elementary school teachers to other schools in the area that use similar spaces to see what sort of educational potential the discovery areas offered.

"We're educating them on new ways at looking at this space and how they might teach," he said.

Greischar also stressed the role of technology in the new school. The school will be designed to stay current with changing technologies.

"We got a lot of great ideas," Greischar said. "We'll be able to not only do it for day one when you open, but do it for 10 years down the road, so we're not having a lot of issues. You'll be able to integrate your technologies."

The building would also have the potential for the district to add a sixth 200-student pod for kindergarten students.

Preliminary designs for the campus include sports fields, playgrounds and about 12 acres to the west of the project reserved for future growth.

Surrounding input

Since announcing the proposed school site in July, district officials have sought input from homeowners surrounding the property.

Larry Scott, who attended the district's informational meetings, said while he supported a school at the location, he was concerned with the traffic coming onto Peach Street and also stormwater drainage in the area.

"If they want a school, they can have a school," he said.

Another area resident, Barbara Kruger, said she has seen the preliminary designs for the school change as architects updated its design. Neighborhood residents want to see green space near Peach Street, she said.

An original rendering depicted two large parking lots on either side of the building. The current concept has a smaller parking lot near Peach Street and a larger one to the west of the building.

"I was very impressed with that," Kruger said. "Between the first meeting and the second and third meeting, they had adjusted that."

She said she also was concerned about possible added traffic.

"I don't think it will be a major concern," she said. "It will increase in the morning and after school."

To control traffic situations, the district has plans to gate the Peach Street exit during school hours and in the evenings, Eudora Superintendent Marty Kobza said.

"I'm all for that new school going in over there; Nottingham is so overcrowded," Kruger said.

For more information about the school bond or the proposed elementary school, call the district offices at 542-4910 or visit the district's bond Web site at www.eudoraschools.org/bond.

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