Feeling the breeze at Buena Vista
New windows appreciated in district bond-issue work

       Buena Vista Elementary Principal Brenda Smith is pleased with the extensive bond-issue work done at her school this summer - especially the new windows.
       “Can you feel the breeze?” she asked during an interview last week in her office. “You could never feel the breeze before.”
       Many windows, some of them dating back to the original school construction in 1911, had been painted shut. If windows could be opened, it was at the peril - because of the lack of screens - of what might fly in. Bees and birds had been known to intrude on classrooms, Smith recalled.
       The school's bond-issue work, costing just under half a million dollars, was completed this summer by School District 11 contractors and employees. In addition to scores of new vinyl windows - the exact number was not available, but there were 32 different sizes of rough openings, Smith said - the school now has new interior doors, sewer system, plumbing, electrical wiring and components and a chain-link fence around its perimeter.
       “We tried real hard to keep the basic archictectural look with the windows,” explained District 11 Facilities Director Mike Maloney. “It's not an official historic building , but we know the folks in the neighborhood would like to maintain its historical, traditional look as much as possible. And that vinyl should last a good, long time.”
       Some of the window-replacement work may continue into the fall, Maloney added, although efforts will be made not to disrupt classes. Smith doesn't mind. “It's nice to see the district putting so much money into an older building,” she said.
       In conjunction with the work, the school also renovated the combined Cottage 2 and 3 buildings, just east of the main building, to use during the '06-'07 school year. The cottages, part of the original school construction, had been leased out in recent years because the space was not needed. But that situation has changed with the school's transition to Montessori - a style of education allowing students to work at their own pace on projects that interest them under the tutelage of specially trained staff - which started in 2004.
       Cottage 2 and 3 will house the three lower-elementary (grades 1-3) Montessori classrooms, Smith said. The school is now all-Montessori through first grade, with grades 2-5 offering traditional teaching as well.

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