The playground is in, the lockers are up and the maple flooring is down in the gymnasium.
It even has that new-school smell.
Winton Elementary School is cruising to the finish line – on budget, ahead of schedule and unlike any other school built in Coeur d’Alene.
From the front entrance, with brick and wood shingles that echo the character of the old Winton, to the polished concrete floors to the Spokane River views from some of the 18 classrooms, the $8 million project stands apart from a series of major school renovations completed here in recent years.
“I think it’s the best job we’ve ever had in the district’s history,” said Bryan Martin, director of maintenance and facilities for the school district. “So when you’re coming in (on target) moneywise and you get everything you want, and you get the project early so we can move in, you just can’t beat that.”
The 51,728-square-foot building is configured on three levels on a tight lot above Northwest Boulevard. It replaces the oldest school in the district, which dated to the Prohibition era and had single-pane windows, old radiators, wheelchair obstacles and some portable classrooms.
District officials at first were unsure about tearing down the historic school and rebuilding on the same spot. But teachers, parents and neighbors supported the plan, and the school’s staff and 320 students moved into an old elementary school in Hayden for the past year of construction.
Longwell and Trapp Architects of Hayden paid homage to the former 1937 building, blending some of its characteristics into the new design.
“One of the promises we made to the community was trying to capture some of the architectural features of the old building,” Superintendent Matt Handelman said.
T.W. Clark Construction of Spokane Valley is the general contractor.
The district expects to take the keys to Winton by Aug. 1, giving the teachers and staff more than a month to settle in before school starts. The capacity is 475 students, and almost 450 are enrolled for the coming school year.
Before construction began, the school board approved a major add-on of six classrooms, increasing the price tag by $620,000. Most of those rooms will be used when the school opens in September.
From a tour earlier this week, here are some of the highlights of the new Winton school:
All Coeur d’Alene schools have been retrofitted to tighten security, but Winton is the first to have this safety emphasis integrated throughout the design.
• Visitors must check in at a security window with safety glass – just like at a police station – before gaining entry.
• High windows in certain areas let in light but keep groups of kids out of view.
• The old playground sat in front of the school, fully exposed. Now it’s tucked in behind the building and fenced.
• The school is covered inside and out by almost 40 security cameras.
The school has three classrooms for each grade level, kindergarten through fifth, plus some rooms custom-built for advanced learning and special education programs.
• Classrooms are just under 900 square feet and designed for an average of 28 students, although the district is working to lower all class sizes.
• Each room has large, sliding white boards that give teachers four surfaces to write on. “We’ve done that in all our remodels, and the teachers really love it,” Martin said.
• The gym, twice the size as before, has an adjoining stage and music room and a second entrance for after-hours use.
• Kids ate lunch in the old Winton gym. Now they’ll eat in a multipurpose room with an attached kitchen.
• The playground includes a small amphitheater available for outdoor lessons and special programs.
It’s a bigger school with a larger parking lot, but the district didn’t have more space to work with.
“It’s a much more efficient use of the small footprint,” Handelman said.
It’s also the first school to use all LED lighting: bright, long-lasting and inexpensive to run. Handelman said the lighting was dim in the older schools. “It makes a huge difference for learning,” he said.
Martin added, “We’re starting to look at revamping the entire district with LEDs now, because of the payback on it.”
• The polished concrete floors cost a bit more upfront but over time will prove to be low-maintenance.
• Larger classroom sinks include two sets of handwashing faucets as well as drinking faucets.
• Heating and air conditioning run on high-efficiency natural gas/heat pump units.
“We kind of built it from the inside out,” Martin said. “The technology in this building – I don’t think there’s anything else out there that you could put in here. It’s got everything that they need for these kids.”
• That includes wireless Internet, digital clocks and ceiling-mounted wireless projectors, in addition to the security cameras and LED lighting.
• In addition to a computer lab, the spacious library will have banks of computers.
• Bathrooms have automatic flush and sink/towel controls.
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