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Powell Middle School design nears completion

Decision makers got a glimpse into Powell Middle School’s future during Tuesday night’s Park County School District No. 1 board meeting.

Members of CTA Architects and Engineers took Powell board members and school administrators on a virtual tour of the design for phase two of Powell Middle School’s expansion and renovation.

The project, which now is fully funded by the School Facilities Department, will go to bid Jan. 1, 2014 and construction will begin March 3, 2014, according to CTA project manager Karen Kelly.

The school will have a classroom capacity of 492 — 164 students per grade — following the project’s completion.

Phase one, which was completed last summer, added a spacious multi-purpose room, a technology garage and a family and consumer sciences room.

Todd Wilder, coordinator of support services, said phase two is a much grander undertaking.

“It replaces all the classroom spaces of the (original) building,” he said.

The presentation began with a visual overview of the planned classroom buildings.

Two new classroom wings will extend to the east of the common area. The south wing will be single story, while the north wing will be two stories. Each of the three sections will house classes of a different grade level.

One of the major goals in designing the new wings was to make efficient classroom spaces.

Traditionally, teachers occupied their own classrooms throughout the entire day, even during periods in which no class was held.

“When they have that teacher planning period, nothing else can go on in that class because that’s their office,” Wilder said.

Each wing will have seven classrooms designated for core classes, a science lab, a central activities area and a teacher planning center.

The teaching planning centers will provide a place for instructors to plan their lessons while leaving the classrooms open for teaching.

“Teachers don’t necessarily own their classrooms,” Wilder said. “That way, these classrooms could be really used more efficiently. Theoretically, (classrooms) will never be empty.”

Wilder said the design aims to make the school as flexible as possible so that it can provide a place where children can be educated as technology and education techniques evolve.

“We want this building to be able to transition and morph with it so it can be a 100-year building and not a 60-year building,” Wilder said. “It’s going to be able to adapt to however education changes.”

The second story will feature an outside lab area called the “DaVinci Lab” where specialized science projects could take place.

Following the construction of the core classroom wings, the current “L” wing of classrooms will be demolished and replaced with a new wing that will house music and art classes.

The school’s current gym, locker rooms and weight rooms will be the only buildings to remain, and all will be renovated.

The school’s entrance will move from its current location to the southeast corner of the multi-purpose room. All entrants to the school will have to pass through the administration building before being allowed to proceed farther into the school.

Specifics of the school’s entryway security spurred discussion between the CTA representatives and school administrators.

Powell Middle School principal Jason Sleep said he is concerned with how the security measures will affect the first impression of parents who enter the school.

“I just want it to be safe, yet at the same time welcoming,” Sleep said at the board meeting.

Kelly suggested scrapping the idea of a bank teller type window in the entry hall and making the school’s entrance more like the waiting area of a medical facility, with a counter and places to sit.

“It’s a bit like going into your dentist’s office. This would be a very nice, attractive waiting area,” Kelly said.

Wilder said he has been told by administrators from other school districts that schools that use stiff security measures are receiving positive feedback from their communities.

“They feel like their kids are in a safe environment because people have to be challenged to enter the building. Surprisingly they’re not getting a lot of push back about that.”

School district superintendent Kevin Mitchell supported the idea of having a school employee in the entry way to evaluate visitors face to face.

“That face-to-face provides that person with a feeling of welcome as well,” Kelly said.

Bleachers will be added to the east side of the multi-purpose room so it can be used as a more effective presentation hall. An adjoining staircase will give access to the north wing’s second story.

A parking lot will lay at the southwest corner of the property, adding 77 spaces to the 35 that were created following the completion of phase one. Sleep suggested a pick-up/drop-off lane be added in order to keep buses separate from the vehicles of parents and other visitors.

Design architect Joel Anderson used 3D rendering software to show a highly detailed view of both the interior and exterior of the campus.

The new wings will have a multi-colored brick exterior, playing off the color of the bricks of the gym.

Board members eagerly chimed in with ideas for eye-catching design and signage around the property.

A sundial tower that would stand at the school’s main entrance would set the stage. Sleep suggested the word “learning” should scale that tower, and that another tower adorned with the word “activities” be built near the school’s activities entrance.

“It would be nice to set the stage as you walk to the building that that’s what you’re there to do,” Sleep said.

The CTA team will rework the design, incorporating feedback it received from the board meeting, and present an updated design in the near future. The team will then meet with middle school faculty and staff in May to gather input from them as well.

Mary Jo Lewis, coordinator of business services, said that while the design is impressive, everyone needs to expect unexpected changes to be made before the finished product.

“We just need to understand that it isn’t going to look exactly like that (design) when it’s done,” she said.

The School Facilities Department approved a budget of $20,829,927 for the construction of phase two and a total of $1,406,385 for the architectural design, planning and drawings.

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4 comments

  • posted by Steve Moseley

    May 01, 2013 5:07 am

    The fact Wyoming "ain't Nebraska" was precisely my point to begin with. Wyoming folks have every reason to be thankful it's not.

  • posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    April 30, 2013 7:50 am

    Hurry and tear down some more usable school buildings..the bricks are dirty and the state has money to burn.BTW,this ain't Nebraska.

  • posted by clipstein

    April 29, 2013 11:33 am

    Yep and how many districts in Nebraska would love to have the old s schools here? You do not have an idea what the new high school is still costing the taxpayer.......Where do you think the money for these schools comes from?????? oh sorry it is not free money.....an old saying you cannot fix stupid

  • posted by Steve Moseley

    April 29, 2013 6:55 am

    Powell patrons are so fortunate. Nebraska has no School Facilities Department. Here in York (a town very much like Powell) we are in the middle of $12.5 million high school project that's a blend of renovation/remodel and new construction. Every penny (plus interest, of course) of that $12.5 million, plus millions more for our new middle school built a few years ago, will be extracted from the pockets and purses of taxpayers like me for years and years into the future. I hope my friends and neighbors in Powell understand and appreciate that your way is not how the rest of us have to go about upgrading and/or replacing our school buildings.

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