The classrooms and therapy offices are larger, making more room for teachers and therapists to work with children.
The layout of the building has been designed with security in mind. And teachers and students have the comforts of a new building, including air conditioning and a strong internet signal.
Seven years after voters turned down plans for a new Indian Creek Elementary School, teachers and students moved into a scaled-back version — a new wing added onto the intermediate school.
School officials planned the addition at $10 million, which doesn’t require a vote. And a petition drive to stop the smaller addition was defeated.
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The $10 million addition is replacing a building with sections between 28 and 75 years old that school officials said could not be updated with new technology and required more maintenance due to its age. School, town and township officials aren’t sure what the vacant, former elementary school should be used for. Trafalgar’s town council approved hiring a consultant to study the building.
About 380 students started school at the new building Tuesday, where teachers and administrators directed them to their brand new classrooms.
The new wing includes 26 classrooms for preschool through third grade. The building has its own office, cafeteria, gym and playground but also is connected to the intermediate school.
Part of the appeal of connecting the elementary school and intermediate school is that teachers and administrators at both schools can team up for lessons and events. For example, if an older student wanted to mentor an elementary school student, that could happen without having to arrange transportation, principal Keith Grant said.
“I think we will be able to work together now,” he said. “We can communicate a lot easier.”
And now all four Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson school buildings are on one campus, which allows teachers to team up more and also will help improve internet access for all schools, he said.
Throughout the school, all of the 26 classrooms are larger than at the old school and have more storage for teachers, superintendent Timothy Edsell said.
“They will see a larger, more efficient classroom,” Edsell said.
“If the environment is better, it will make you a better teacher.”
Maintenance costs were a big issue at the old building, including a leaking roof and spaces large enough for bats to get in, and internet connectivity was extremely poor, Edsell said.
“It was not a good learning environment,” he said.
School officials also could design the new school with safety in mind.
The middle part of the wing is reinforced with double concrete bricks to offer a shelter for students and staff in inclement weather.
And at the former elementary school, the office was located away from the entrance, so visitors came into the building and walked down a hallway before checking in at the office. Now, the office is at the entrance to the school, meaning visitors will have to check in before they go into the building.
Many of the amenities in the new school wing came from the suggestions of school officials, teachers, staff members and community members who told designers what they wanted to see in their school, Edsell said.
Kindergarten students have some of the largest rooms at 900 square feet each, and have their own bathrooms and a doorway out of the school in case of an emergency, Grant said.
“The other rooms were not set up for kindergarten,” he said. “Any time you have to bring smaller children an extended distance, there is more room for error.”
Preschool and kindergarten students will have their own playground, with older students sharing a second playground. The playground for younger students is planned to be built later, after engineers finish up some details with the new school.
50,000: Square footage of the new elementary school wing.
$10 million: Cost of the elementary school addition to the intermediate school.
About 380: Number of students who are enrolled at Indian Creek Elementary.
4: Number of grades in the school. Students in preschool through second grade attend school in the wing.
26: Number of classrooms in the new school wing.
Franklin schools is the last local school district to head back to school.
Start date: Aug. 10
Here is a look at Johnson County schools by the numbers:
Total students: 25,909
School buildings: 37
SOURCE: Indiana Department of Education, 2015-16 school year