Monday, March 16, 2015

Renovated, expanded Pointview to welcome students in fall 2016

Wednesday March 11, 2015 11:53 AM

Westerville City Schools' renovation and expansion of Pointview Elementary School will take an estimated 18 months to complete and cost $5.5 million, district officials said.

The renovation and expansion, carefully designed to create "inspirational learning environments," should be complete for students' return to class for the start of the 2016-17 school year.

The Westerville Board of Education approved plans for the project Jan. 26. The district is using funds from its continuing capital improvements levy to pay for the project.

Pointview currently is 37,000 square feet and is the only school left in the district that uses the "open classroom environment" popular during its original construction. That means most walls separating classrooms don't extend to the ceiling. Many such "walls" at the school are bookshelves or even just bulletin boards.

Jeff LeRose, director of facilities for the school district, said officials have received feedback that students are easily distracted in the open classroom design. Teachers must teach quietly so as not to disturb others, there is insufficient workspace, and many current classrooms do not have windows. Such floorplans were eliminated through previous renovations elsewhere in the district including Annehurst, Mark Twain and Robert Frost elementary schools.

LeRose said he and his facilities team considered doing just renovations or even replacing the whole building at Pointview, but decided a combination would be most cost-effective.

"We reviewed three options: renovation only, renovation/ expansion and building replacement. After reviewing preliminary budgets associated with each option, we made a recommendation to the board to renovate and expand the existing building. The board supported our recommendation," he said.

The building addition is planned to connect to the older part of the school through a glass hallway.

The addition will have a total of 10 classrooms, including eight 900-square-foot instructional spaces plus an art room and a music classroom.

"This is another opportunity for us to create an educational environment that inspires learning," LeRose said. "Our goal is for Pointview to be a destination where students are excited about the experience that awaits them when they wake up in the morning."

LeRose said in planning the project, he is working with principals to listen to their feedback as well as take into account students' comments.

Preliminary designs of the renovation and expansion include adding windows, more storage space and providing a variety of classroom sizes.

The existing building has 21 variously sized classrooms, which the renovations will convert to 15 classrooms of different sizes.

There are nine large classrooms planned, each designed to hold approximately 25 students, as well as two midsize classrooms and four small classrooms with between 230 and 414 square feet.

Additionally, there will be an expanded media center, main office and cafeteria.

LeRose is currently in the design phase of the 18-month project and that will continue for three more months.

The plan calls for building permits to be obtained and the bidding process to start in May.

In this preliminary schedule, the school board should award a contract for the work June 22 and construction should start Aug. 20. The work is to take about 11 months.