Additions solve space problems
Jackson has six new classrooms and Howbert four, as a result of projects that started last summer at the north ends of both schools.
Two Howbert teachers who were definitely ready for the new space are sisters Jill and Julie Cortier, who teach the two first-grade classses. Their rooms had adjoined each other through the first semester in a portable unit that they had nicknamed “the cabin.”
“We had a door between the rooms that we were never able to close,” Jill said, sharing a grin with her sister. Now, with hard walls between their classes, “I can't go peek to see if her class is having more fun than we are.”
The first day at Howbert brought almost as many parents as kids, wanting to check out the new space. “We heard a lot of oohs and ahs,” Julie Cortier said.
For the first year at Howbert, in addition to the two first-grade classes, there will be two fifth grade classes.
At Jackson this semester, the six rooms will house grades 2, 3, 2-3, 3-4 and both kindergarten classes with their own new playground. The kindergarten classes in the past had been separated because of space issues. “It will be neat to have them both together,” Principal Anne Dancy said.
Jackson's preschool class has moved to one of the old kindergarten rooms (the one with the playground in front). Three of the classes in the addition had been in portable classrooms last semester.
High-tech amenities, featuring interactive white boards, are installed in all the new rooms at both schools. Howbert's work also included a ramp up to its nearby playground, while on the west side of Jackson's addition an outside door was cut in to allow access to the parking lot that was built as part of the buildings bond issue in 2006.
One aspect of project work remained unfinished at Howbert this week. A remodel of the library/media center - including new storage areas, carpeting and computer spaces - had been accomplished over the Christmas break, but staff was still busy shelving books, arranging furniture and organizing storage. The library work had become possible because of the savings on the contractor's bid for the addition, according to District 11 project manager Val Baughman.
The case was similar at Jackson, where a new intercom system became affordable. The overall budget was $1.2 million at Howbert and $1.5 million at Jackson. District 11 planned the additions after school closures last year that caused both schools to wind up with more students.
Westside Pioneer article
Workers frame a new wall by Howbert's main entrance during the winter break, as part of the extra work in the library/media center that was affordable because of savings on the addition.
Westside Pioneer photo