By Kevin Kelley
That design, by Lesko Architecture, is by design, said Westlake City Schools Superintendent Scott Goggin.
The new elementary school, to be located just west of Westlake Porter Public Library on Center Ridge Road, will be the culmination of the district’s Phase II of its long-term facilities plan.
The new high school and middle school buildings opened in the fall of 2013. Those construction projects were funded through an $84 million bond issue that voters approved by a 55.4 to 44.6 percent margin in May 2010. Phase I also included renovating the old Lee Burneson building to serve as an intermediate school.
The latest design plans for the new elementary school will be a major part of Goggin’s State of the Schools report, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Westlake Schools Performing Arts Center at Westlake High School, 27830 Hilliard Blvd. It will be the first annual report for both Goggin and Treasurer Todd Hopkins, who were hired by the district last summer.
The April 25 meeting will also feature updates from members of the district’s strategic planning committee, which has been asked to reconvene, Goggin reported.
The yet-to-be-named elementary school will have its main entrance on Center Ridge Road. Funding for the new elementary school was authorized by Westlake voters in November in the form of a 1.3-mill, 33-year bond measure that will raise $33.6 million for the new building. The measure, which passed 10,424 (61.46 percent) to 6,538 (38.54 percent), also included a 0.8-mill permanent improvement levy that will raise approximately $1.14 million annually to maintain the district’s facilities and pay for capital improvements.
Because the new building will replace the district’s four neighborhood elementary schools, many parents expressed concerns that their young children would be overwhelmed in a crowded school building. To alleviate those worries, Goggin said, students at the new school will be divided by grade level to create a more intimate environment. The building will have three classroom wings – one for preschoolers and kindergartners, one for first- and second-graders, and one for third- and fourth-graders.
“We had a lot of feedback from parents about what they were concerned about, what they wanted to see,” said Goggin, who showed preliminary design plans at PTA meetings last month. Designers from Lesko Architecture will meet with elementary school faculty and staff in May to obtain further input, he said.
The preschool and kindergarten wing will have only one floor; the other classroom wings will have two floors. At the center of each wing will be a common area in which students can gather in small groups for instruction or activities.
The main section of the building will contain administration offices, a kitchen and mechanical areas. The wall between the gymnasium and cafeteria can be removed to accommodate a large audience for events.
Current plans place two driveways onto Center Ridge Road, with a traffic light planned at the one to the west. That driveway will be located opposite the driveway to Westlake United Methodist Church. Placing the driveway there, as opposed to the intersection with Glenmore Drive, will allow the district to create an eastbound turning lane along Center Ridge Road on the school property, Goggin said. Buses will enter the school lot from a single entrance on Westown Boulevard.
According to Brad Tucker of Lesko Architecture, work on the site will begin Oct. 1. Construction is scheduled to start in February. The school will open to students for the 2019-2020 school year.