Major renovations to Park Elementary are slated to begin Jan. 1, with the most visible changes to the building’s structure scheduled to start once the school year ends.
The project, which received the green light when voters approved a $28.8 million bond referendum to upgrade Hutchinson Public Schools’ elementary buildings, was reviewed by the School Board Nov. 8, with a presentation from LHB, the school’s hired architectural firm.
Also reviewed and approved were bids for 18 work categories that were part of a $12.96 million Park Elementary project cost. That means the project comes in $619,493 under an estimated $13.58 million. The project was once estimated to cost less, but administrators long expected unforeseen costs at Park Elementary and maintained a large contingency.
The renovation projects at Park Elementary and West Elementary, and the addition of Tiger Elementary, overall have a budget of $35.2 million between referendum and targeted school funding.
A digital tour of the building plans can be found on LHB’s YouTube page at tinyurl.com/parkrenovations.
Phase 1 of the Park Elementary project, which will begin at the start of 2022, includes work in the southwest basement wing. It also includes the southwest wing on the main level and the classrooms there, and all of the upstairs floor, including the many classrooms there, except for the north wing.
Phase 2 of the project, which begins when the school year ends, includes the bottom floor of the east wing facing Glen Street, and the lunch area. The east wing will also be renovated on the main floor.
Phase 3, which will follow Phase 2 and abatement, tackles the north wing of the building — the 1956 addition. It will be demolished and, in a small Phase 4, a stairway on the north side of the building will be added.
Overall, the project is scheduled for completion before the 2022-23 school year begins.
The demolition of the 1956 addition of Park Elementary will cut the building’s size down to what is needed to serve fourth- and fifth-grade classes, with second- and third-grade students moving to Tiger Elementary. It will also reduce the building’s footprint and make room for a parking lot extension on the building’s west side. The district wants to reduce bus traffic and no longer unload students on Grove Street. The lot will also be used for hard surface play activity when there is no bus traffic. Portions of existing paved area will become green space.
Each grade will have a floor of the building, with unique learning areas in the basement. New spaces will be added for small groups to gather. The layout of classrooms will be adjusted to make their sizes more uniform, but not drastically changed. A draft of the layout shows classrooms with the option for nontraditional seating arrangements with clusters of desks for group learning.
“It’s a pretty similar floor plan and arrangement,” Jonathan Pettigrew of LHB told the School Board.
The basement’s north-facing windows will be used to extend natural light deeper into the building than is possible now. Art, music and hands-on technology spaces will share a centralized, illuminated space near the media center.
On the main level, the theater and gym spaces south of the main east-to-west hallway will not see many changes. The offices will remain oriented on the building’s southeast corner.
Unique features such as the terrazzo and tile of the building, which was constructed in 1938, are expected to remain. Windows, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, electrical systems, technology, windows and roofing will be addressed to modernize the building and address overheating issues.