The new Urbana pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school is nearing completion, with school scheduled to start on Sept. 11. Superintendent Charles Thiel noted the construction company has an incentivized completion date of Aug. 31.
The massive, 180,000-square-foot facility is about 100,000-square-feet bigger than the new high school and features two gymnasiums, a huge dining area, two playgrounds, a softball field and a multi-purpose athletic field graded for football and soccer. The junior high gymnasium will seat approximately 500 – about the size of the existing Bill “Skeeter” Moss gymnasium.
The building will house faculty collaboration rooms, an idea carried over from the high school, which allow the staff to mingle and exchange ideas while eating and doing non-instructional work.
Each grade level will have a learning community with a series of learning studios (formerly classrooms) that feature the same modular options that the high school offers. Open garage doors, partitioned studios that can be opened for multi-class collaboration, high-tech voice projection and flat screen monitors adorn the communities.
“Ninety percent of the time, if we had it at the high school, we said ‘let’s do it here,’” Thiel said.
A communal lavatory features a sink outside the actual restroom, allowing educators to keep an eye on students and ensure that hand washing and horseplay are kept at appropriate levels.
Desks are designed to be placed close to one another, in a circle of 10 or a bunch of four.
“The guy that designed these (desks) talked to us on the last day of the school year last year,” Thiel said. “They’re designed essentially for students’ knees to be touching. We don’t necessarily want them to touch, but that puts them in proximity to communicate.”
The school will continue to work closely with the ESC, serving additional students.
“Most of the kids will be from Urbana. We will take in some low-incident kids from the surrounding area,” Thiel said.
With the big day coming up, the folks that currently staff those grade levels will have to be ready for a monumental move, consolidating nearly a half-dozen buildings with assistance from a moving company.
“We’re going to have our own internal staff move East and Local,” Thiel said, noting that a moving company will handle North and South. “Our people know how to move stuff. They were fast and efficient (in previous moves). There’s been a lot of purging and there’s lots of purging that still needs done.”
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.