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Informational meeting held on Martin Elementary addition project

By Melinda Roberts

GREEN BAY – Building expansion and changes are on the horizon for Martin Elementary School.

At an informational meeting in the school gym Tuesday, March 12, Green Bay Area Public School District Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld welcomed about 20 people to discuss the $4.6 million referendum construction project scheduled to begin at the elementary school in June.

“It really is about the kids and the right-sizing of spaces, so that the teachers can provide the very best they can for each and every child served in here,” said Langenfeld. “And we’re excited to be here.”

Daniel Wiitanen, associate/senior project architect of Somerville Architects and Engineers, spoke about project goals and architectural design.

Wiitanen said the main goals of the project are to provide three classrooms for every grade, to build a new gymnasium, to convert the existing gymnasium into a student commons and to create a new library.

He also noted additional goals have been identified, including the creation of a new art lab, providing new spaces for kindergarten and 4K and offering modern learning environments and flex spaces.

Wiitanen pointed out the new library addition (Area A) will be on the south side of the campus adjacent to Pinehurst, the new classroom addition (Area B) will be on the west side of the campus over a portion of the existing playground and the new gymnasium (Area C) will be on the north side of the campus along Sunrise Court.

The new additions will add 23,000 square feet to the school building.

Wiitanen said the plan also includes additional parking “that will not only help with staff and faculty here and make the main parking lot more available for parents and visitors, but also when there are after-school events in the gymnasium or here in the commons that will alleviate all of the street parking.”

Near the new gymnasium will be a new vestibule entrance, separate from the main entrance to accommodate after-school activities. The new gym and commons will have their own dedicated entrances that can be used separately or together.

The vestibule that is currently being used by the students for bus pickup will be changed to an interior vestibule that includes handicapped access to the building.

“We wanted to enhance the look of this whole corner of the building,” Wiitanen said. “We’re giving the area a more dynamic space. So we’re adding glass, a lot more natural light in the area, outside views for the students. We feel that’s important, especially when you’re in the library environment.”

Two small glass collaborative rooms will be able to be used for student activities or small group learning or individual learning.

“We’re stressing flexibility throughout this entire project,” Wiitanen said. “We want to create individual fun spaces” that include reading nooks and flexible furniture where students can have different kinds of learning activities.

The library will also have internet access, white boards and be a space where there are opportunities for learning.

The first portion of the remodeling involves the kindergarten area and turning six classrooms into four – three for kindergarten and one for 4K. Each of the spaces will have a single stall restroom, cabinets and sinks and coat cubbies for the students’ personal items.

“For the younger kids we like to have that activity inside the room so it’s more easily monitored,” said Wiitanen.

The existing coat cubbies in the corridor will become two breakout areas with flexible learning spaces with white boards, availability of technology and carpet, so the kids can sit on the floor, along with having flexible furniture.

“Again, flexibility is our main mantra when it comes to this project,” said Wiitanen.

The existing library will become a new art lab. The high ceilings will be maintained, and new cabinets, new sinks, new storage and a new art storage room will be added.

The kiln will be relocated next to the new art room, so all activities are in one area.

The music room will be relocated back to its original location with new ceilings and new acoustic panels.

The two-story classroom addition in Area B will include eight classrooms for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students. There will also be a special education room in the middle. That space will include another collaborative area for flexible learning and will be a part of the hallway.

There will also be three smaller collaborative rooms with glass fronts and two larger collaborative rooms that could accommodate about a third of a class for larger group projects.

“Again, flexibility,” said Wiitanen. “We’re letting the teachers teach the way that they need to and giving them the spaces they can use rather than simply the classroom.”

Lots of windows to bring in light will be incorporated into the space.

Wiitanen said the building will be a little bit taller than the existing building built in the 1960s “to make it a nicer space for everyone.”

The main part of Area C is the gym addition, which will be about twice the size of the existing gym. A one-story adjoining addition will be a mechanical room for the gym.

The gym will have powered retractable goals on the end, punched openings on the east and west and a wall of glass on the north side, starting at about 19 feet to the top of the building to bring in lots of light.

The gym won’t have retractable bleachers, but it will have room for chairs on the ends and the option to add bleachers on the south end in the future.

A restroom area will be added for everyday use and special events. A large storage room and a physical education office will also be added.

Wiitanen said the existing gym/commons won’t change much physically except to “make it a little more fun.”

The new commons area will include acoustic ceiling clouds, new lighting, some new colors, some acoustic panels to keep the sound down and a new floor.

“It’s going to look really nice in here without really tearing down walls or anything like that,” said Wiitanen.

Some concerns about the impact the addition project would have on the neighborhood were expressed by Calvin Court neighbors Blagoy Dimitrov and Val Englebert regarding existing water systems, area flooding and beautification.

Those concerns were addressed by Wiitanen and Mike Stangel, the district’s executive director of facilities and related services.

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