Kendall school project focuses on security, improved educational atmosphere

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Kendall students in grades 7 through 12 eat lunch in the commons, where Principal Carol D’Agostino, left, is pictured with Julie Christensen, the district superintendent. A $25 million capitol project would move the cafeteria to a different part of the school, so nearby classrooms will be less disrupted by the cafeteria noise. Many other projects are part of the plan that goes before Kendall voters May 21.

KENDALL – When Todd Reichlmayr gives his social studies students a test, he often feels frustrated by the outside noise that pours into his classroom. He can hear other teachers leading class discussions. He hears locker doors slam, and people walking by in the hallways.

Reichlmayr and other teachers in the junior-senior high school have classrooms without back walls and doors. Kendall’s school was built in 1971 in the “open classroom” model.

The rooms were all built in the center of the school building. They don’t have access to the windows on the outer walls. Hallways line the perimeter on the building.

“I’m most concerned about the noise level,” Reichlmayr said Monday in his classroom. “Surprisingly, the kids are so used to it, it doesn’t seem to phase them.”

The classrooms have partitions to help block out some of the noise.

“From a safety end, I don’t have a door,” Reichlmayr said.

The junior-senior high school was built in 1971 in an “open classroom” model that didn’t include contained classrooms. The school includes partitions to try to reduce noise and hallway distractions. A capital project would give all the classroom four walls and their own door.

The district is proposing a $25 million capital project that tackles a number of improvements at the two school buildings, including a reconfiguration of the classroom wings so each room has four walls and a door. That will go a long way to improving the learning atmosphere and security for teachers and students, said Julie Christensen, the district superintendent. The project goes before voters May 21.

“There will be better instructional space,” she said. “It will be fresh and safe.”

Another classroom disrupter, the cafeteria, will be relocated to a wing of the building occupied by the current weight room and another classroom. Right now, the cafeteria “is smack in the middle of the building,” Christensen said.

The commons area, where students eat their meals, will stay put and will be used for other purposes. The new cafeteria will be designed in a way to increase student flow so they can get their meals quicker. The current setup allows for one slow-moving line.

The hallways would also be moved so classrooms would be near the outer windows, giving most of the classrooms access to natural light during the school day.

“We’re finding it a challenge to get the kids through the line in a timely manner,” said Carol D’Agostino, the junior-senior high school principal.

The capital project would give both school buildings new roofs, create secure entrances and lobbies, and upgrade heating systems. The junior-senior high school will receive the most work, including new septic, pavement, track and tennis court surfaces, and solar panels.

Christensen said the upgrades will make the school campus more energy efficient, and will reduce maintenance costs for years to come.

The state will pay 90 percent of the project with Kendall’s local share already saved in a capital reserve account.

There will be a forum on the project 7 p.m. April 30 in the junior-senior high school commons. The May 21 vote will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the elementary school.