ASHLAND – The Ashland-Greenwood Board of Education got an overview of the concept for the planned middle school during its meeting on Monday night.
Last November, voters approved a $59.9 school bond issue. The project will build a lower elementary school for pre-kindergarten to second grades and a middle school with a competition gym and performance auditorium that will eventually be turned into the high school.
The new elementary school is expected to be completed by fall 2022 and the middle school/performing arts auditorium will be ready for students a year later.
The elementary building will be constructed first because there is a greater need for space at the current elementary building. The design of the building was presented to the school board right not long after the election.
Beau Johnson and Scott Gatewood with DLR Group provided the first real glimpse of what the middle school will look like on Monday.
Johnson said DLR representatives spoke to administrators and staff last summer during visioning sessions to learn first-hand what they wanted for the new pre-kindergarten-second grade school and the middle school/performing arts center.
“This is really where we learned the foundation of what the project was going to be,” he said.
For the entire bond issue project, developing a campus feel is important.
“Obviously we’re putting three buildings on this property and we want to make sure that those three buildings work together,” Johnson said.
The architectural firm came up with a “we/see” statement to define the design that came from the visioning sessions.
“We see an innovative and flexible technical hub where students and staff socialize, collaborate and explore different career paths and develop their strengths in a fun and inspiring environment,” Johnson said.
The middle school will have a “spine” that unifies the building and provides a sense of wayfinding, according to Johnson. The “heart” of the building will be a commons area. There will be wings for academics and career technical education (CTE). The music area will tie in to the performing arts auditorium and the athletics wing will be located near the existing track and field complex.
The classroom pods will have a flexible, diverse design that includes “havens of collaboration where stimulation and education can really happen,” Johnson said.
Nature is an important element in the design of the entire project. Natural light is an element in all of the new structures. While the pre-kindergarten-second grade building will name each pod a different word from nature, like “sprout” or “seed,” the nature-theme in the middle school will come from incorporating elements into the design like the color blue from the school mascot, the bluejay.
Green spaces will connect the new buildings with the current middle school/high school, Johnson explained.
The school district is planning to present the concepts for the new buildings to the public during a community presentation on Tuesday, May 11 at 6 p.m. in the middle school/high school cafeteria.
The school board also approved May 27 as the final day of school for both students and staff. In the presentation, Curriculum Director Jill Finkey said the date would shave two days off of the number of days required by contract for the certificated staff, but reminded the board that the district had six weather-related school closure days and one day off for the state volleyball tournament.
Finkey also noted that the students will receive more than the state-required number of instructional days.
In other action, the school board accepted the resignations of several teachers. Amy Krance-Wendt (middle school/high school vocal music), Jonathan Jaworski (instrumental music), AnnaLisa Estrela (ag instructor/FFA advisor), Brandon Nygren (second grade teacher) and Cassie Eickhoff (middle school language arts).
The school board also approved the hiring of five new teachers for the 2021-2022 school year. They are Haley Hansen (first grade), Georgia Lewin (first grade), Victoria Davis (fourth grade), Reese Hogue (middle school/high school social studies) and Taylor Grandstaff (middle school/high school vocal music).