Wednesday, August 29, 2001

New Lakota school to be flexible

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Lakota Schools' fourth junior school is being designed so that it could easily be expanded and updated for use as a high school, should a third high school be needed in the future.

        Architect Michael Dingeldein explained the 100,000- to 105,000-square-foot building would be designed similarly to Lakota East and Lakota West high schools, only on a smaller scale to accommodate a junior school population.

        “Much like the high schools, we'll divide the academics from the core,” Mr. Dingeldein told the board of education on Monday.“The core areas will be one-story and the academic classrooms will be two stories.”

        The junior school is one of two buildings that will be constructed with proceeds of last year's 6.74 mill combination levy, which included a $44.5 million bond issue to pay for a new junior and elementary school plus other improvements. Both new schools will be constructed on the former VanGorden Farm, an 85-acre site at the northwest corner of LeSourdsville-West Chester and Princeton roads in Liberty Township. They areto open in August 2003.

        The core areas of the junior school — cafeteria, media center, gymnasium — would be designed for 800-900 students, although no more than 700 are ex pected when the school opens in fall 2003.

        Like the senior high schools, the junior school would have a central hallway with academic classrooms to one side, core areas and specialized classrooms to the other.

        Thirty-five classrooms are planned, with eight more sketched in if bids come in low enough, Mr. Dingeldein said. A stage is planned for the cafeteria, dividing it from the 750-seat gymnasium so it can be accessed from either room for assemblies or programs.

        The 82,000-square foot elementary school is being designed for 800 students and will have 32 regular and seven special use or smaller classrooms. It, too, is designed so that classrooms can be added if needed.

        The multipurpose cafeteria will contain a stage with risers, dividing it from the gymnasium. If both spaces are used, more than 600 people can be in the room. The school will have a skylight and non-bearing wall that can be moved in the future. Trophy-like cases in the commons area will display student work.

        Two driveways will separate bus traffic from parents dropping off students. A circular outdoor classroom lab would be built near the front entrance if bids are low enough to permit it, Mr. Dingeldein said. The entrance would be silo-shaped to blend with the nearby farm.

        Land between the schools — located at opposite ends of the property — would be de veloped as sports fields as needed. Entrance to the elementary would be off LeSourdsville-West Chester Road. Junior school traffic would use Princeton Road.

        "I'm particularly happy with the junior school,” said board president Joan Powell. “(It's ready) if we need it as a high school, yet it isn't overpowering as a junior school.”

        Mr. Dingeldein said site work could begin as early as this November with construction beginning early next spring.


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