COSHOCTON – If all goes as planned, Coshocton City Schools will say goodbye to Central, Lincoln and South Lawn shortly after the start of the 2013-14 school year. The district is expected to receive the keys to its new elementary school by mid to late October.
“The move and transition to the new (elementary) building is still being planned,” said Dr. David Hire, superintendent Coshocton City Schools. “If we get ahead of schedule, making a move during fair break would be a really optimal for us. Christmas break would be our last option.”
He also said the District will keep the best interest of the students in mind while making plans for the move.
“We think it is important for them to be with their peers and the same teacher for the entire year,” Hire said. “How that is going to look or be accomplished has not been determined yet. What we do know is that we don’t want for example South Lawn students to start the year with just South Lawn students and also be with just South Lawn students in the new building. We also want parents to be comfortable with who their child’s teacher is and who they are sitting next to in class.”
Ground for the new school was broke in August 2011 and right now construction crews are focused on getting all three sections of the building enclosed and heat on throughout it.
Section A of the building includes the gym, art room, library, cafeteria and music room, Section B is the three story academic area and Section C has the administration offices and the kindergarten and preschool rooms.
“We have a lot of concrete to pour there (in Section C), but once the slabs are there, the work should go like wildfire,” said Dr. Victor Cardenzana, who as the owner’s representative visits the construction site once or twice a day and prepares a report each day for Hire. “This part of the building also doesn’t have the roof on yet. It has the metal decking but the roof can’t be finished until sometime after Feb. 1 when it isn’t as cold. It has to be at least 40 degrees for the glue they use to work properly.”
The school will have 33 classrooms for grades one through six and nine additional ones for preschool and kindergarten. According to Cardenzana, it will have the ability to house at least 1,000 students.
There also will be other learning areas that allow space for such needs as special education and classrooms to work together.
“The classrooms are setup in pods or clusters, but we may call these tribes to stick with our Native American theme,” Hire said. “Every floor has two of these with five classrooms in each cluster, restrooms, extended learning areas, a flexible room that could be used between the two and tutoring rooms.”
Some of the classrooms also will have movable walls to make for larger spaces. The flexibility of the rooms in the new school is what Hire likes the most.
“The larger spaces, I believe, will be able to serve the students and the district for a long time to come,” he said. “With this building we will have different size spaces to use, classroom areas that allow for more collaboration between teachers and we will all be in one building and be able to even out class size issues. I also like the fact that the cafeteria and gym will have a moveable wall between them and that we are close enough to the high school to use its auditorium if necessary.”
Hire also likes the division between the spaces of the building.
“The academic part of the building is separate from the community part of the building,” he said. “We can lock up and the academic part so the public can use the library, cafeteria, gym and these types of things.”
Majority of the equipment in the school also will be new.
“We have a few things that function and meet the specs that we’ve purchased in the last couple of years and will take with us,” Hire said. “Desks will be all new and so will things like shelving units. The board will have to decide on auctioning off items from the other three schools.”
The District also is in the process of working out staffing for its new school.
“We are down to our bare bones in the other three elementary buildings,” Hire said. “We have known we were going to combine schools and would not need as many staff members as we do for the three separate buildings so for the last several years we’ve been trying to get to the staffing numbers we think we will need to be at.”
Transportation needs are another issue that is being addressed.
“We are working on a survey with the city from a grant called Safe Routes,” Hire said. “We are trying for more sidewalks around the school to encourage walking and finding out what the transportation needs are with the new building and what we need to do and change. A survey went out to parents to gather information on how many plan to drop off their kids, have them walk or need a bus.”
Many of the issues and concerns with consolidating the three elementary schools is being looked at by what Hire said is called the 1203 Team. (1203 is the address of the new school.)
“It’s made up of teachers and staff members that are trying to come up with common practices for the new school,” Hire said. “Currently, procedures are a little different in each of the buildings.”
Deciding what to do with Central, Lincoln and South Lawn is another decision that must be made.
“We are looking at saving the Central gym area,” Hire said. “We want to keep that piece of the complex and possibly work with the city or city recreation to do that. It’s becoming more of a reality to do with not a lot of additional costs.”
As for the rest of Central and the other two schools, the State of Ohio would prefer the District have the buildings demolished, but they also could possibly sell them.
“The state prefers we tear them down,” Hire said. “They don’t want someone buying them and not doing anything with the school because a lot of times they become beat up and run-down and that reflects poorly on the community. If you sell them, they want you to know they (the buyers) are going to do something good with it or demolish it.”
The board will make decisions on the old schools sometime in 2014.
To see floor plans for the new school click below or visit the Coshocton Elementary website.