Brown Elementary School expansion project moves forward

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Staff and students at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School have not been able to gather as a group for more than four years because there is no space large enough to accommodate events and convocations at the school-wide or organize other activities.

During the school board meeting of Seymour Community School Corp. of November 8, a state-required 1028 hearing was conducted for the Brown Elementary expansion project.

“At the hearing, we are required to summarize the project and the need for the project and also allow for any public comment,” Superintendent Brandon Harpe said. “Additionally, the board voted on the resolutions to move the project forward.”

He said the significant growth the school corporation has experienced has led to its expansion.

“We think this is a good sign that our schools and our community are thriving,” Harpe said.

Brown principal Tony Hack said space is always a priority in schools.

“We are very excited and appreciate the continued support from our community, the Seymour School Board and our district’s administrative leadership in response to the growth Brown Elementary is experiencing,” he said.

Regarding the need for expansion, Hack said Brown currently has six teachers using five portable classrooms all day.

“In addition to the portable classrooms, we have three teachers sharing a space in the building which is designed as the school library,” Hack said. “This project will not only support new learning spaces for these teachers and their students, but it will also address common spaces appropriate to accommodate a student body of over 630.”

Deputy Superintendent Lisa Ferguson said the society’s mission is to create a student-centered culture where all students can achieve success.

“We are on a mission to provide unprecedented opportunities for all students in an atmosphere where they can grow and succeed,” she said. “We collaborate to build relationships with all stakeholders to create an outstanding learning environment.”

Based on this assignment, she said the SCSC finds an educational need for Project Brown for the following reasons: current enrollment exceeds capacity (616 students), the project will limit or eliminate the use of laptops to provide a educational space for students and the project addresses safety. concerns by limiting or eliminating student travel outside the envelope of the main building structure.

The project will also address security needs for reunification, provide students with student-centered learning spaces, provide space for the entire student population to congregate for convocations, and provide space to prepare , serve and seat students for lunch and breakfast.

“The project will limit or eliminate the need for programs to share spaces and improve options for receiving students upon arrival and arranging for their dismissal,” Ferguson said.

Talmadge Reasoner, assistant superintendent of operations, said Brown was originally built in 1976 as an open-plan schoolhouse with the kitchen, cafeteria seating area and gymnasium located in the middle of the school.

“In 2000 it underwent a renovation project to build walls and doors, eliminating the open-plan design,” he said. “In 2005, the current administrative wing with passive security located at the main entrance was completed, and from 2010 to 2015, several phases of renovation and addition were completed to update interior spaces, mechanical equipment and add the current kindergarten addition.”

He said due to increased enrollment, portable classrooms began to be used in 2019, with more being added every year, bringing the total number to five.

“The continuation of planned housing developments in the southeast quadrant of our school district (including a near-complete apartment complex across the street) would indicate the continued need for additional instructional space in the building, even after fifth-graders in the district joined middle school this fall. ,” he said.

Reasoner said that given the obvious need to add classroom space to the school while tackling the woefully inadequate kitchen and cafeteria and the vastly undersized gymnasium, the preliminary designs for this project include the construction of a new kitchen, cafeteria seating area and gymnasium which will be located around the southwest corner of the building and continue along the south side.

“The construction of these new spaces will allow for adequate seating in the cafeteria which is away from the teaching hallways for noise control as well as for all students, staff and visitors to congregate at the same time in the gymnasium, which they have never done. been able to accomplish,” he said.

Once the new spaces are built, Reasoner said renovations to the current kitchen, cafeteria lounge area and gymnasium could begin, allowing for the creation of seven new classrooms, three small group teaching spaces and a pair of gang toilets, i.e. traditional toilets for boys or girls. .

“This will allow all students to be educated within the school building, eliminating the security risk currently presented by the use of the five portable classrooms,” Reasoner said.

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