Educational space to be expanded in Bristol renovation

       In addition to fire safety, a more efficient use of space is the goal of the major reworking of Bristol Elementary's interior next summer.
       Contracted architect Jim Wages of RTA Inc. presented a preliminary plan to Bristol staff and parents Sept. 12; the goal is to meet again later this month with a to-be- appointed advisory group that will finalize the plan with the architect and School District 11 project leaders over the next two to three months.
       By economizing on space, the fire safety need will be met and nearly 1,000 square feet of space now used for corridors in the 31,300 square-foot building can be devoted to educational purposes, Wages said. He said he is also looking at ways to bring more natural light into the classrooms, possibly using skylights.
       Principal Steve Ferguson said he was pleased with the presentation. He also praised such architect ideas as moving instrumental music to a room nearer to the main music room, putting the two kindergarten classes together near the front of the school, enclosing the media center and installing glass at its north end to allow a farther- back view of the school's famous local-history mural.
       Overall, however, the basic layout will stay the same, with the gym and offices unchanged at the south end of the building and the media center staying in the middle with classrooms around it.
       The $851,500 project is being funded by the district's buildings bond issue that passed in 2005. Bristol's interior needed attention because it is a carryover from the 1970s open-classroom educational trend. Not only has this trend lost favor over the years, it has the downside of fire-safety issues. For instance, with the temporary partitions now in place at Bristol, two classrooms can only evacuate by going through adjoining classrooms, Wages pointed out.
       The work will include revamped restrooms, plus air conditioning and new electrical.
       The advisory group will also be helping Ferguson make decisions on how to spend an additional $51,000 in school-choice funds from the bond issue. Ferguson said two areas he has been looking at for some of those funds are permanent protection for the mural and repair of the gym floor.

Westside Pioneer article