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Lafayette County School District approves design of new elementary school

By Kelsey DeVazier

With a $23 million bond referendum vote scheduled for Sept. 11, the next phase in planning for the Lafayette County School District’s new elementary school is coming up with a schematic design of how the new building will look if the bond is approved.

“Our architects are already drawing to get ahead in this schematic design phase,” said Casey Rogers, president of Innovative Construction Management. “When we vote on Sept. 11 to approve this (bond), they need to hit the ground running.”

If approved, the current preliminary schematic designs show a total of 111,000 square feet, with space for 880 students in the new elementary school and room for expanding in the future if necessary.

The floor plan of the building includes a central core with adjacent classroom wings for first and second-grade classes. Each wing contains approximately 14 classrooms, depending on the use and size. If needed, the design plans include room for other potential wings.

Each wing, in addition to its classrooms, would have a workroom, restrooms, teacher restrooms, an intervention room, testing room, language therapy room and extra book storage. A designated meeting room for teachers would also be included in each wing.

The front entry of the central core would contain a media center, administration offices and other specialty classrooms, such as music, physical therapy, art, special education and computer labs.

Designated areas for bus drop-offs and car drop-offs was a must in the design, William Dexter, one of the principal architects for PryorMorrow, the architecture firm tasked with designing the new elementary school, said.

“The buses would drop-off at the front entry. Then car-rider drop-off could happen at the back entry,” Dexter said.

The different drop-off points would help eliminate traffic jams before and after school.

Another major plan is a large parking lot for both teachers and visitors. The lot would hold 263 parking spaces. Dexter said rather than having several smaller parking lots around the campus, one big parking lot would create easier control over who goes in or out of the building for security reasons.

“If everyone knows that it’s the main parking lot, it’ll help with safety issues,” said Rud Robison, principal architect for PryorMorrow.

Another design plan is for a P.E. area, which would include a stage on one end. Approximately 1,125 people can fit in the space, which was designed to be large enough to serve as a storm shelter if needed.

The cafeteria in the new building would be able to seat 432 students at a time. Two lunch rotations would take place in order to accommodate each student.

“We wanted to take it to this level so that people can actually see what they’re voting for,” Dexter said.

Voting on the approval of the school’s design occurred on Monday’s meeting, where it was unanimously passed.