Last summer’s renovation of the first floor at Champlain Elementary School served three purposes: (1) install new windows in four classrooms, (2) create a main office area that improves building security and brings health, counseling, and administration together, and (3) upgrade ventilation and other infrastructural systems. Starting in June, I began meeting with Burlington Schools Property Services, architects, and contractors to coordinate the improvements.
Our meetings continued through this winter to plan for Phase II and future projects proposed in the BSD’s ten-year capital plan. Property Services Director Marty Spaulding and I have met multiple times with the architects of Colin Lindberg to consider our building’s most pressing needs. This has included redesigning the floor plan and installing windows on the second story, building a separate cafeteria, and constructing a safe car drop-off site in front of the building. With multiple school sites needing repair and renovation across our school district, Champlain’s plan was expanded over a multiyear period.
Based on staff feedback, we identified that educational service facilities needed improvement. Currently these services, provided to one-third of our students, are located on all three floors of our building based on space availability rather than best practices or our students’ needs. Burlington Schools provide many educational services to children who qualify for special education or English language services, and also many other children in need of speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, psychological supports, and/or math and literacy interventions. Given the increasing number of students with high needs, not only in Burlington but across the state and country, designing confidential, yet accessible learning spaces became a high priority for Champlain. This week, our faculty reviewed the latest plans.
The architects at Colin Lindberg have proposed redesigning the first and second floors at Champlain during summer 2017 as follows:
- Relocate first graders to a classroom with windows. (Note: Due to classroom size requirements, kindergarten cannot be relocated to another classroom.)
- Redesign the floor plan of the library/learning center (LC). This will involve:
- Eliminating the computer lab: Desktop computers will move to classrooms, and students will have greater access to Chromebook and ipad carts.
- Removing the storage of non-LC materials out of the newly-designed LC.
- Reshape the LC to the size of two combined classrooms, and distinguish areas for instruction (complete with SmartBoard and worktables) and for bookshelves and bins. The bookshelves will create a perimeter around the LC.
- In the remaining eastside LC space, build four small classrooms to serve 5-10 students, individual student workspaces, and LC storage.
- Redesign two rooms in the current educational services area (formerly the main office) to address students’ needs, such as an instructional room devoted to gross and fine motor development and another for Howard Inclusion services.
- Repurpose the first-grade classroom for mathematics instruction and intervention.
- Install multiple windows in all classrooms based on the same design as the new windows on the first floor.
- Redesign two small rooms (currently special education) into a new classroom. This new room will bring all second graders to the second floor, allowing for more collaborative learning between teachers and students.
- Relocate all special education and math intervention services to the first floor services facility.
If the renovation moves forward this summer, no educational programs will be offered at Champlain and renovations would begin immediately after the last day of school. Previously considered renovations, specifically, the car drop-off site, separate cafeteria, and redesigned upstairs floor plan, are included in the district’s ten-year capital plan.
Renovations at Champlain and other Burlington schools are contingent upon voter approval of the proposed 2017-18 budget. Additional challenges may lay ahead with new executive leadership in Montpelier and Washington. If parents/guardians have any questions, please contact me. Thank you for all your support of our school!