August 6, 2008

Design Puts Schools’ ‘Core’ to Use — Cost Savings, Functionality of New Elementary Buildings May Become Prototype

By Jimmie Covington

The design for two new DeSoto County elementary schools keeps a large circular core area but converts the space to functional uses at a cost savings, planners told school board members this week.

Architect Gary Bailey said the county's elementary schools built in recent years have followed a prototype featuring a large open rotunda with classroom wings running outward.

Plans for the new Lewisburg primary school and DeSoto Central area elementary school place the school administrative offices, media center (library), music room, speech rooms, computer lab and student restrooms in the core area.

The classroom wings run outward from a circular hallway around the core, said Bailey and Stan Klenk, a principal with Allen & Hoshall architectural and engineering firm.

"These two may become a new prototype," Bailey said. "We have improved upon the design of the other elementary schools. It will save us costs and also function better."

In addition to making better use of the space in the buildings, he said the design would reduce the movement of children around the buildings and reduce noise.

Also, Bailey said, "All classroom wings are very simple with no angled halls or no funky spaces. It's all nice and clean."

In addition, he said the fronts of the buildings will differ from those of the schools under the former prototype.

"The front area is simply a wall which has a canopy behind the wall," he said.

The change, he said, will avoid the need to "build a bunch of roofs."

Bailey said planning is running a little ahead of schedule and bids are expected to be taken around the first of the year. Officials want the schools completed for the start of school in the fall of 2010. They are being designed to serve about 800 students each.

Lewisburg primary school, being designed as a K-2 school, would be just south of the current Lewisburg Elementary School at 1717 Craft Road. Lewisburg Elementary would become a grade 3-5 school.

Klenk said the two schools would share some of the access drives on the campus as well as parking.

A specific location has not been selected for the new DeSoto Central area school that is being designed to serve K-5.

The two schools plus the new Lewisburg and Center Hill middle schools and the new Lake Cormorant High School are being funded from the $60 million bond issue approved by DeSoto County voters in May.

The school board awarded construction contracts for the two middle schools Monday with completion expected for the opening of school next fall.

The new Lewisburg Middle will be on the west side of the large Lewisburg campus almost directly behind Lewisburg Elementary. Center Hill Middle will join Center Hill High and Overpark Elementary on the large Center Hill campus in east DeSoto County.

Major site work is underway for the new Lake Cormorant High in west DeSoto County. Officials are seeking to have that school completed by December 2009.

- Jimmie Covington:

Originally published by Jimmie Covington [email protected] .

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