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December 18, 2014

Jacksonville Teachers give wish list for amenities at new school

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Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 5:59 pm | Updated: 11:02 pm, Mon Jun 16, 2014.

Jacksonville school system administrators this summer are turning to the principals, teachers, aides, office workers and lunchroom staff at Kitty Stone Elementary for pointers as they work with architects to design a new elementary school.

One teacher from each grade, forming a committee, has been asked to find out what features their peers would like to see in the new building.

“Most of them have been teachers for a while and they know the needs of the classroom and the students,” Kitty Stone Principal Christy Hamilton said of the group. “We’re making it what they want.”

Last week, the committee submitted a list of recommended features in new building to Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell, who passed it on to Walter McKee, owner of  McKee and Associates Architecture and Interior Design, the Montgomery-based firm hired to design the building.

“I think it’s very important that we ask for input from the people who will be using the building,” Campbell said, although, he cautioned, “That doesn’t mean that we are going to be able to do everything they ask.”

He called the list submitted to McKee and Associates a wish list and said the system will include the items it can afford. Administrators have $12.6 million to build the new school.

The list includes plenty of practical requests — such as a sink with hot water for the nurse’s station and more storage space in the fourth-grade classrooms. Also requested by representatives from several grade levels was more student bathrooms; some teachers asked to have restrooms attached to individual classrooms and shared between two classes.

There are also requests to address unique situations — such as a door frame wide enough to accommodate a 42-inch timpani drum in a music room.

The list also includes wants, such as an indoor-play option for pre-K students on bad-weather days.

The committee also submitted a few requests that took up more than one line on a page. One of those is to have a special needs building next to a parking lot.

“This would help their parents so much, especially with children in wheelchairs, etc,” teachers wrote.

The most whimsical item on the wish list might well be a deck with a frog pond for kindergarten students.

Fourth-grade teacher Beverly Parker, one of the representatives on the committee, said teachers are excited to be getting a new school. She added that the educators are glad to have the chance to be in on the planning process, even if they can’t have every item on their list.

“They didn’t say we would get all of our needs met, but that we would get some,” Parker said.

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