A planned new media center at Cortland Elementary School looks good on paper, school officials said.
Kovert Hawkins Architects gave Seymour Community Schools trustees time to review plans for the $1.5 million addition during a meeting Tuesday night.
The 6,509-square-foot addition would be built in the open field along the parking lot and connect to the building on the northwest side. It’s the third addition in recent years for Seymour Community Schools as the district works to modernize its facilities and make room for increasing student enrollments.
Cortland is home to around 150 students and is the district’s smallest elementary school.
In late 2013, a four-classroom addition was completed at Emerson Elementary School; and this summer, a similar addition was completed at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School.
The district also plans a second phase of work at Brown for interior renovations and a project to add soccer fields at Seymour High School.
Most of the projects, including Cortland, have been funded through general obligation bonds, which are paid back using local property tax revenue.
The main area of Cortland’s addition will consist of a new media center to replace the school’s outdated open-concept library, which in today’s learning environment creates functional and safety issues, school officials said.
One area of the media center will include risers for children to sit on while being read to, a study room, a large conference room, an office and a workroom.
The addition is scheduled to be open for use in the fall of 2016. Besides the addition, the project will include some interior renovations of the space currently being used as the school library.
Jamie Lake, project manager, said another benefit of the project will be added restrooms. “The building is greatly lacking in restrooms,” he said.
The addition also allows for the expansion of classroom space in the future if needed, Lake said.
Physically, the addition will match the existing building well, he added. “We are matching the same materials that were used in the latest addition, extending the limestone and matching the brick,” he said.
There will be stepped ceilings in the media center, going from the typical 9-foot ceilings in the smaller rooms to a 14-foot ceiling in the main area and 12-foot ceiling over the side areas.
“That gives us a nice, high space with nice, tall windows,” Lake said. “It should be a very pleasant space.”
The media center also will be set up to double as a community center for meetings or after-school activities.
“It can be opened up while the rest of the building is locked down,” Lake said.
Much of the interior renovations, including six classrooms near the current library, will be bid as alternates so that the school board can choose which projects are the most important and fit within the budget.
“We are hoping to get the renovation or at least portions of the renovation work, too,” Lake said. “This will truly upgrade this wing of the building.”
Other alternates that will be bid include work to the main entrance and front hallway and vestibule to redo the flooring and wall finishes and a new sound system and acoustical treatment in the gymnasium.
Although there is not a lot of site development work required for the addition, Lake said, they are planning to add some sidewalks around the building and extend the sidewalk to the school’s welcome sign in order to make it a little safer for students or staff to change the letters on the sign.
He said there also are concerns with the parking area that will be addressed.
“We’re looking at adding a curb and sidewalk there to help control the traffic flow so there is more of an ingress/egress and it’s not so much a free-for-all,” he said.
Currently, Kovert Hawkins is on schedule to complete the drawings and other construction documents by the end of this week to release for bidding. The project will be awarded in September.