Jun 10, 2014 Allie Wenner Uncategorized
On June 5, the East Syracuse Minoa School District held a groundbreaking ceremony for its “Greener, Greater Grove” project, a $29.4 million plan to renovate and make critical upgrades to Pine Grove Middle School.
Renovations will include the replacement of core infrastructure within the building such as plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, as well as the addition of a 12,000 square foot performing arts and center and community café.
“Our vision at ESM is to become an exemplary 21st century learning community whose graduates are prepared to excel in a complex, interconnected changing world,” said ESM Superintendent Dr. Donna DeSiato. “We will watch the transformation of this building into a 21st century learning environment – it was clearly designed to be a 20th century learning environment in 1969, and it must be changed.”
It’s been 45 years since Pine Grove last saw significant construction work. That was 1969, when the school was first built. DeSiato said the renovations will not only align better with the district’s vision of a contemporary “21st century learning” model – they will also solve some of the foot traffic problems within the building.
“The original footprint of the building is a U-shape, and we have found that because of that shape, it is difficult to get from one side of the building to the other without going through the entire perimeter,” she said. “The 12,000 square foot addition will be constructed in the middle and will allow us to have better traffic patterns because the building will be interconnected; it’ll be more of a rectangle than a U-shape.”
Additionally, all renovations will follow “green” standards to make the school more energy-efficient and to maximize savings. Several “learning zones” will be created within each grade level. These learning zones will be designed to foster a more intimate learning community for collaboration in small groups as well as learning in larger groups.
A Greener, Greater Grove supports the newer educational model by providing space that is flexible for students and staff. This means that the entire student body will also be able to gather together comfortably for presentations, assemblies and performances in the new performing arts center.
The project was approved by ESM voters in December 2012. Approximately 75 percent of the project cost will be covered by state building aid. Construction is set to begin as soon as school is done at the end of this month and the anticipated completion date is in the spring of 2016.
Middle school displacement
Due to the extensive construction set to take place, students who will be entering grades six through eight next year will not be able to attend school at Pine Grove and will instead be housed in different buildings within the district’s borders.
During the 2014-15 school year, sixth-graders will be staying in their respective elementary schools for an extra year. Seventh-graders will be relocated to “Pine Grove East,” formerly St. Mary’s School in Minoa. Eighth-graders will be taking classes at “Pine Grove West,” a special eighth grade wing within ESM High School with a separate entrance and lunch period.
DeSiato said that due to cooperation between staff within all of the buildings, the district has been able to find the necessary space to house an extra grade level within the high school and each of the elementary schools.
“It’s really been a team effort,” she said. “Some people will be sharing space and some people will be moving to another space. It’s going to be a little cozy for a couple years, but we also believe it was the safest plan by having our students in buildings that only we occupy and only we have authority over.”
Changes in dismissal times
The Pine Grove administrative team is collaborating with the four district elementary schools to develop schedules for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. The district has outlined tentative dismissal times on its website, which call for two different dismissal times in the elementary and high school buildings. Elementary and high schoolers will stay on the same schedule, but there will be a separate bell to signal arrival and dismissal for the middle school students:
Currently, students at Pine Grove begin their day at 8:30 a.m. and are dismissed at 3 p.m. Sixth-graders attending Fremont and East Syracuse Elementary next year will keep the same schedule, while sixth-graders at Minoa and Woodland Elementary Schools will arrive at 8 a.m. and be dismissed at 2:30 p.m.
Seventh-graders will have the earliest start and end times, with the school day beginning at 7:55 a.m. and concluding at 2:25 p.m. at St. Mary’s.
Eighth-graders will start their school day at 8:05 a.m. and will be let out about an hour before the high school students, at 2:35 p.m. at the Central High School.
All after-school activities will continue to be provided and the district will provide bussing to the appropriate locations, as necessary.
For more information about Greener, Greater Grove and the potential changes for middle school students, visit http://www.esmschools.org/PGproject.