Initial school plans get OK

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education approved Monday night an educational specifications plan for a new middle school in Seward.

The plan now will go to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development for approval before the district hires an architect to draft plans for the new building.

The educational specification or ed spec is a required step in the process to build a new school in the state. It incorporates national criteria for school buildings with the wishes of school staff and community members to develop a conceptual plan for the building's structure.

Jerry Winchester of Winchester Alaska Inc. Architects and Planners drafted the plan after several meetings with community members in Seward, district staff and administrators and national experts in school planning.

According to the ed spec, middle schools have a unique purpose and design must meet with the needs of that purpose.

"The goal of middle school education is to provide students with a broad selection of activities and services that include academics, clubs, sports, scheduling, personal and safety needs, to meet the developmental needs of the whole child and enable that child to become a responsible and independent citizen of a global society," Winchester wrote.

"The middle grade facility must fulfill a primary requirement: to provide a unique and transitional learning environment. The building should be designed and spatially organized to support the educational program. At the same time, design and construction methodology must include a high degree of flexibility to accommodate future program changes."

The ed spec outlines a plan for a building based on such a philosophy.

"The key to facilities now is making sure they're flexible," Winchester said.

Both traditional classrooms and exploratory classrooms (those used for electives such as home economics or wood shop) will be designed with a multipurpose goal. The various classrooms will be ready to use for a variety of purposes, so that as educational programs change at the school over the years, the building will not require remodeling, he said.

The plan outlines three basic wings of the school: the core academic area, the performing arts-physical education-dining area and the administration and guidance area.

Winchester presented a conceptual plan for the core academic area that includes academic classrooms centered around a project lab and a science classroom or lab. These clusters would be centered around a library and technologically up-to-date media center. The academic area also would include resource rooms and two multipurpose labs: a "clean room" for cooking, sewing or art classes and a "dirty room" for shop classes or other arts and crafts projects.

Near the academic area would be a wing with more common spaces, such as a gymnasium, and auditorium-cafeteria, a performing arts and music stage, storage rooms, locker rooms and maintenance areas.

Finally, the plan incorporates an administration-guidance wing with a reception desk, staff room, conference room and other office space.

In the conceptual plan, all the aspects of the building would be organized in a manner that promotes safety and community building for students.

The new school is expected to cost about $14.7 million and will be paid for by bonds approved last October by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters. It will replace the current Seward Middle School, which is suffering extensive structural problems.

The new building is expected to be built with Alaska climate conditions specifically in mind. It will be about 37,500 square feet and hold 250 students.

The school board unanimously approved the plan, and it was expected to be sent to the EED this week. The district hopes to hire an architect for the design of the building in early September so construction can start in April.

In other action Monday night, the board:

Approved nontenured teaching assignments for Cindy Beding-field as a prevention counselor in the Homer area and Lisa Hayward, who will teach fifth grade at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School.

Approved new teaching assignments for Kari A. Cook, districtwide occupational therapist; Mary C. Pucillo, districtwide temporary school psychologist; Bar-bara Titus, kindergarten through fourth-grade teacher in Port Graham; Steven J. Evans, special education teacher at Seward Middle and Senior High schools; and Geoffrey Glover, elementary school generalist at Tubughna School.

Approved resignations for Heather Lindquist, kindergarten through third grade teacher, Cooper Landing School; Colby Neagley, Title I reading teacher, Nanwalek; and Bernie Clark, history and physical education teacher, Ninilchik.

Approved administrator appointments for Ben Eveland, assistant principal, Soldotna Middle School; and Mo Sanders, administrator, Soldotna Montes-sori Charter School.

Approved a district organizational chart that identifies lines of responsibility through the district office.

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