Wilkes Elementary replacement moves into schematic design phase

With last week’s completion of the education specifications for the replacement Wilkes Elementary, the Bainbridge Island School District has moved into the schematic design phase.

“We’re meeting with the advisory committee next week and we’ll be looking at some of the site configurations,” said Tamela Van Winkle, director of facilities and capital projects.

The education specifications determined the education program and the square footage, Van Winkle said. The schematic design phase will explore the building’s internal adjacencies, while the following phase – design development – will bring about building specifics.

The new Wilkes, which was made possible through a $42 million capital bond passed in November, will be 62,950 square feet and designed for 450 students.

The new building will house 21 classrooms: 16 for elementary, four for kindergarten and one developmental preschool.

The library will be 2,660 square feet while 3,500 square feet will be devoted to arts, music and technology.

The building will be based on the learning-cluster concept, where four classrooms are grouped around a shared learning space. Students can gather in small groups, work with parent volunteers and collaborate with other classes in these shared spaces.

The importance of shared-learning spaces was discussed at length during the education specification process.

“It becomes an integral part of the instructional program,” Wilkes Principal Sheryl Belt said.

Currently, Wilkes parent volunteers work with students at desks in school hallways.

“It’s going to allow us to work in a way that puts teachers together where they can work together... and there are those breakouts for core instruction,” Belt said.

Nearly 3,000 square feet will be used for special education in a centralized location, Van Winkle said.

“In traditional buildings, special ed never counted,” Belt said. “We’ve tried to group our special ed people together where they can team together. [The student] will have this team of people behind them.”

The commons – or cafeteria, which can be used for community gatherings and programs – will be separate from the gymnasium.

The gym will be 5,040 square feet, 1,500 square feet larger than the average elementary school gym, and will meet community needs as well, Van Winkle said.

“That’s what the Master Plan has identified,” Van Winkle said. “It’s a little larger than a typical elementary sized gym.”

The district will likely present a final schematic design report at the end of July, Van Winkle said.

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