Board gets elementary school update

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Robin Savola and Mike Schwindenhammer of Eppstein Uhen Architects reviewed the newest schematic design for the new elementary school and shared plans for the Sauk Trail kitchen remodeling project at the Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 4.

Schwindenhammer said the Sauk Trail project is expected to start right after school is out and be done in late July or early August. District officials noted the kitchen is one issue from being out of compliance and is using referendum operational funds to cover the cost of the project.

Director of Business Services Lori Ames said because of the project the Summer Food Program, which provides free and lunch to students, won't be held at Sauk Trail in 2019. Intead, the meals will be served at MHS.

Schwindenhammer reviewed the latest drawings for the new elementary school. He said the City of Madison is not allowing parking directly in front of the school. The revised plans will still keep parent and bus drop off separate. There will be about 120 parking stalls on the south side of the building. There is also room for another 30 spots for overflow parking. Superintendent George Mavroulis noted up to 80 staff members are usually in an elementary school, which should leave ample parking for others who visit.

Schwindenhammer also said the site has been set up so parking can be expanded should a middle school be built there in the future.

Savola noted current MCPASD principals, teachers and other staff members met with EUA to determine what kind of new elementary school the District wants. Pollinators will be the theme that runs throughout the building and the commons-cafeteria has been placed in the center of the school to act as a hub.

Third and fourth grade will be on the first floor with other grades on the second floor. Grades 1-2 and 3-4 will share a bubble classroom, that will be used as a MakerSpace area except in those years when either grade needs a sixth section due to larger enrollment. There are also small group instruction rooms available between every two classrooms. Each grade also has three bathrooms.

Savola and Schwindenhammer also reviewed some of the safety components and noted District and EUA officials held a safety and security meeting a couple of weeks ago.

Draft images of the front and back of the building were also shared, although it was noted that the final color for the metal and the type of brick that will be used have not been determined. Schwindenhammer said EUA wants to make those elements fit with the site and the area.  

Later in the meeting Mavroulis updated the Board on a proposed amendment to the declaration of restrictions and covenants of the District-owned property.

He noted when the property was purchased more than a decade ago it included an elevation limitation restriction as the Pope family didn't want a building to block views from the conservancy to Lake Mendota or the State Capitol.

Mavroulis added placing a building on the site at the 1,160-foot limit set forth would force the District to build a  retaining wall approximately 20 feet high along back of the property at a cost of about $1 million. It would also limit access to the conservancy by students and staff.

The District reached out to Mel Pope to see if the height of the school could be 1,170 feet. The family was agreeable and requested that it be named Pope Farm Elementary School. If a future middle school is built there, it would be called Pope Farm Middle School.

"This is really a win, win, win, win,'' Mavroulis said. "We are really very excited about this.''

The Board is expected to vote on amending the agreement at its meeting on Feb. 11.