Plans to open at least three new classrooms and add a new, technology-based library to a Greenwood elementary school have been approved, and work could start this spring.
The goal of the $1.9 million project is to make more room for a growing number of kindergarten, first- and third-grade students and reduce the number of students in each classroom so teachers can provide more one-on-one instruction.
But if the money is there, Southwest Principal Beth Guilfoy also wants to move the offices for the school’s counselors, nurse and student service advisers to a newly expanded front office. That would open up even more space in the building. And if Southwest can add a larger gym, then all of the school’s 520 students would be able to gather for assemblies.
“We love having the high numbers that we have. We love our kids, and fortunately we have enough staff members to support them. We just need more space,” Guilfoy said.
Greenwood’s school board began considering renovating Southwest in October after Superintendent David Edds presented an early set of plans that converted the library into classrooms and added a media center to the school. The upgrades would allow officials to cut class sizes from 28 students to 25, Edds and Guilfoy said.
This past week the board approved moving forward with the project, and now Guilfoy, along with director of business and finance Randy Burns and director of operations Larry Slone, will review the plans with the architecture firm Schmidt Associates. They will assess how quickly those plans could be carried out, whether any problems could arise during construction and what the final cost will be, Edds said.
The plans will be presented to the school board, and if they’re approved, Greenwood can start getting bids to do the work. The board also will need to approve a two-year, $2 million loan that will pay for the project, he said.
Edds presented a second possible construction plan to the board this past month, but that plan involved adding two classrooms to the front of the school, and that wouldn’t have added enough space, Guilfoy said.
Edds said he wants to get the construction plans and loan approved quickly so that work can begin this spring. He would like for Southwest to begin using the new classrooms by the fall.
Each new classroom would be able to hold about 25 students. The school needs at least three, but adding four would help ensure it could handle future growth, Guilfoy said.
If the school’s library were turned into classroom space, then Southwest would need to construct space for a new media center. The media center would have more computers for students to use as well as an LCD projector teachers could use for interactive lessons, Guilfoy said.
“Really, we just don’t have space here to do anything like that,” she said.
Guilfoy is also hopeful enough money is available to expand the front office. A larger office would help keep more of the school’s employees together and would open up more space within the building.
Currently, if teachers or volunteers want to work with students one-on-one or in small groups, they have to find space in the cafeteria or teachers lounge. But if counselors and student service directors work out of the main office instead of smaller offices in the building, then the smaller offices can be turned into instructional rooms, Guilfoy said.
Guilfoy would also like to expand Southwest’s gym, but she isn’t sure the school will have enough money to do that.
“Not everything I would like to have in this building is going to be possible,” she said.
Edds told the board during his presentation this month that Westwood Elementary School also needs more classroom space. The board likely will be asked to approve plans to add classrooms to Westwood next year, he said.