Latest designs address space in elementary schools

Latest designs address space in elementary schools

SMITHFIELD – The School Committee last week got into the specifics of elementary school reconfiguration as part of Stage III planning last week.

Supt. Judy Paolucci said during the June 27 school board meeting that the “big ideas” of the reconfiguration plan have not changed, and new design plans by DBVW architects include requirements by the Rhode Island Department of Education related to space needs in classrooms.

Paolucci said the School Building Committee and Colliers International, the operations project manager, met with teachers and administrators in each school to ensure their needs were met and appropriate spaces were made for each school.

Those spaces include adding special needs education rooms, adding “maker spaces,” and creating areas for small group instruction. She said each school has a space for a possible “bubble classroom” should an enrollment boost occur.

“This took a lot of time really thinking about where in the building each of these small rooms should be,” Paolucci said.

School Committee Chairwoman Rose Marie Cipriano said the Building Committee and designer are taking a closer look at plans to ensure financial feasibility and that they meet Rhode Island Department of Education building requirements.

Paolucci said the Stage II submission to RIDE showed a range of choices, but didn’t get into specifics or show a variety of space for specific functions that the schools need.

Anna McCabe Elementary School

Winsor Elementary School, 562 Putnam Pike, will close and students will join Anna McCabe Elementary School, at 100 Pleasant View Ave. Paolucci said McCabe will have the same number of classrooms with four classrooms per grade located in the same area of the building for better collaboration.

She said it was essential to make McCabe feel like one school after the merge with Winsor, which she feels is addressed in the new designs.

The music room was undersized in the earlier plan, but complies with RIDE specifications now. The media center is twice as large as initially designed, which will allow for a common learning area for classrooms.

A new room is being added for health class, called the learning wellness lab to accommodate health teachers.

Paolucci said a lot of work went into the cafeteria area to make sure it was large enough to accommodate students and have an appropriate service area.

She said the most significant difference in the plan protects the wetland area around the school by keeping the entrance in the front instead of the side as previously proposed.

LaPerche Elementary School

Paolucci said the number of classrooms at LaPerche, 11 Limerock Road, will remain the same, but Stage III plans have added a few key spaces, such as a gross motor area in the early learning center, bringing the early learning coordinator into the building, and designing the art room to be used for multiple purposes.

Paolucci said Stage II designs for LaPerche included the costly movement of the baseball field and an external gymnasium, but Stage III design plans will keep the gym in place.

Instead, designers are placing doors to limit access into the school to allow for external uses and rentals.

“This obviously will decrease costs a bit,” Paolucci said.

She said adequate storage will be added to the school as well, eliminating the need to use the gym as a storage facility.

Stage III design plans will also include classrooms for inclusive special education previously missing from plans.

Paolucci said the plans at LaPerche leave an area for possible expansion should Smithfield grow in size or the state pass mandatory pre-K in Rhode Island.

Old County Road Elementary School

The Stage III designs for OCRS, 200 Old County Road, are more comparable to the other schools than in Stage II designs, Paolucci said. More space will be added to the school to make room for the library, the main office and music rooms.

“That’s where we get to design new space for specific use instead of trying to refurbish old space that really doesn’t fit. It makes more sense that way,” Paolucci said.

Paolucci said the school will have more space for reading and small group instruction, which she said was not seen in the old design.

The stages will be removed in the cafeteria for better use of the space, and will use portable bleachers that can be stored in the gymnasium.

Impressive work, says Paolucci

Paolucci commended DBVW and Colliers for the improvements and design plans at each building.

“I’m really impressed with what they’ve done so far. They’re listening,” Paolucci said.

All schools will receive upgraded ADA compliant entryways and will receive air treatment improvements.

Bathrooms have not been upgraded yet, as designers are waiting for RIDE approval before moving forward with schematic designs. The Building Committee expects to receive them by the middle of this month.