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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

'Tremendous building'

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New SL school's construction is right on track; finish date set for June 15

When all the construction workers are on the job inside the new elementary building, it is like a small city. Hauling and moving and installing and drilling proceed rapidly. There is much still to do, but according to Storm Lake Superintendent Dr. Paul Tedesco, the pace is on target. The $15 million, 126,796 square-foot building is expected to be complete by June 15 and the students will attend their first class in the new facility next fall.

The mammoth complex is still something of a shell, but it is covered with a permanent roof, making the working conditions pleasant, even on the frigid cold days that were experienced a couple weeks ago. Inside, warm air is pumped by several temporary heater units. Some workers go about their task in shirtsleeves.

The better the conditions, the higher the productivity.

Prior to the roof going on, the area which will serve as the playground and special event parking was used as the "staging area." Stacks and stacks of construction items that would eventually be needed were located there. Staging is now done out of the elements in the still-bleacherless- gymnasium.

With all the material needed storehoused in virtually one place, the work continues at a rapid pace.

Many inside walls, dividing the room spaces, are still not in place, but like an explorer, Dr. Tedesco, who has nearly memorized the now-tattered architect plans sitting out, recognizes where each classroom will be located, where the secretaries will be situated, how the kitchen will be layed out.

The floor plan has been well thought out by the architects - the same that designed the Storm Lake Middle School - who have taken into great consideration the little people that will utilize the structure, Tedesco says.

Separate vehicle traffic is being planned as a safety measure - one area will be for bused children to enter and the other for parents to drop off and pick up other children. The one area will lead to the administrative offices and the other to the lower grades' classroom area. Three general academic areas are in the works - the kindergarten area, the first and second grade area and the third and fourth grade area. "Neighborhoods" is the word being used to describe the distinct three academic areas, giving the young students their own worlds.

Each of the academic areas will contain a shared space that will allow for all the students from the designated class to come together to share a variety of activities.

A plus for the teachers, also, is the shared storage areas that they will have, allowing more actual classroom space to be utilized.

There will be eight kindergarten rooms and first grade rooms and seven of each of the other three grades. Currently, there are seven kindergarten and first grade classrooms and six classrooms for grades two through four in four existing buildings. The current elementary schools hold 680 students, the new elementary building will be able to hold 825. That growth allowance is important, Tedesco said.

A large art room and music room and a 10,176-square foot gym that can be used as a whole or separated into two sections will be utilized by all students in the building, a relief to those teachers that have had to travel from building to building to teach in these areas.

A food service section equipped with two serving areas should get hungry children through the line quicker. The kitchen will be used to prepare food for the elementary building as well as the nearby middle school. Dr. Tedesco notes that most food preparation has been done at the high school in recent years, and then transported to the elementary buildings and the middle school. He commends the high school staff for the great job they have done through those years and is glad to be able to relieve some of the pressure of preparing nearly 2,000 lunches a day in a single area.

Special education classrooms will be well-equipped, meeting all state standards. Restrooms and showers will be located in the classroom. Many of the students utilizing these classrooms have been housed in temporary classrooms outside the South building in recent years.

A state-of-the art media center will house two large computer labs and a smaller lab; Reading First and TAG classrooms will be located off the media center.

Administration offices, a nurses' office, meeting rooms and a reception area are all planned into the structure.

An upper level on the building, consisting of a little over 3,000 square feet, will serve as the mechanical room, and may be accessed only by spiral stairs.

With the exception of the mechanical room, the entire building will be disability accessible.

The new building will be bright, bringing in much light from the large windows located in most every classroom and a skylight.

Dr. Tedesco pointed out that not all of the classrooms are "square" because of the many angles in the building. "This gives them character," he said. For this reason, not all the rooms are the same size.

In addition to electricians and the plumbers and the general construction workers, the teachers have formed groups to pick out furniture for the building. The group has visited other newer schools and gotten ideas from teachers in those schools. There are many more decisions to be made before the project is complete but everyone is working together to make them happen.

Dr. Tedesco shared that there has been great cooperation between the laborers as they work to complete the new school on time for the first bell.

"There have been good crews who have worked hard. They cooperate together and communicate with each other to let each other know where they are. We appreciate their work.

"It has been interesting to see the walls go up," Tedesco said, explaining the excitement of the construction. In April and May when we had that 11 inches of rain, I thought, 'oh, my gosh.' Now the walls are are coming together and it looks like the plan. Oh, yeah, excitement is growing! This is a tremendous building that the public has entrusted for us to have. It's exciting thinking of the grand opening. What a wonderful event for the public. What a celebration it will be."

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