B  U  F  F  A  L  O      N  E  W  S - meeting Monday, September 22, 2008

GRAND ISLAND SCHOOLS

Renovation plans get first public airing

By Kevin Purdy SUBURBAN CORRESPONDENT
Updated: 09/24/08 7:29 AM

An outline of the Grand Island Central School Districtís planned renovation project got its first public airing this week, and it revealed a focus on early childhood education and putting technology into more classrooms.

If approved by the public in February, the project would convert Sidway Elementary into an townwide center for a universal prekindergarten program and classes through the second grade. Huth Road and Kaegebein elementary schools would house the third through fifth grades after renovations, and, if approved by the board, the districtís middle and high school would synchronize their starting and dismissal times.

No price has been announced so far for the project. The proposal, review and design phases of the project were consolidated to accommodate the February vote, so that proposals could go out to contractors before they were booked for 2009.

Roland A. Coleman II, associate principal at Cannon Design, told the board and audience members Monday that while the districtís buildings were an average of 53 years old, they are relatively young compared with the areaís city schools.

But the majority of every schoolís classrooms are too small to accommodate the state Department of Educationís modern-day minimum standards, Coleman said, which include space for computer stations and other teaching technologies.

Participants at planning meetings also have suggested moving the districtís offices and a planned central busing garage to Sidway, located near the islandís center, allowing both the middle and high schools to expand and give more room to art, music, technology and career classes. The entrance to the conjoined schools would also be redesigned, adding a common foyer for groups waiting for buses.

Superintendent Robert Christmann said that unlike traditional project planning, during which district and public committees pitch ideas that designers whittle down, the ideas in this project came from consultations with faculty, students and staff throughout the district.

Christmann said he expects project design updates to be discussed at every School Board meeting until final approval is given, which he said could happen as early as December.