Last week school board members and the general public got their first look at what an addition to Ames School in Riverside might look like.
At the July 18 meeting of the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education, architect Carrie Matlock unveiled conceptual drawings of four options for an addition to Ames School.
While Matlock stressed that the drawings were conceptual and are just starting points for discussion, the preliminary estimates for the costs range from about $8.5 million to nearly $15 million.
These preliminary cost estimates do not include asbestos abatement, construction testing, building permits, land surveying, furniture and storm water management.
“These solutions are about flexibility,” Matlock said. “This is an ongoing process.”
The addition will make use of property the district obtained by purchasing the home at 92 Repton Road in 2016. The house will be demolished this week.
One common element in the conceptual drawings was creating a dedicated lunchroom and creating a new multipurpose room or common area. Currently, Ames students eat lunch in the gym. The old second-floor multipurpose room where students once ate lunch has been split into separate classrooms for music and art.
Two of the options include building a new gym on the east end of the existing building. Under these options, the old gym would be turned into a lunchroom/multipurpose room and a new second floor area over the existing gym would be added to house a library and media center.
Option 1A would add about 9,670 square feet and remodel nearly 14,000 square feet at Ames and cost around $9 million. It would include a new gym, an additional kindergarten classroom, and four new large classrooms on the second floor.
The plan would require a variance from the village of Riverside because the new gym would be not fit within required setbacks.
Option 1B would cost about the same but would keep the existing gym and add on a new lunchroom/multipurpose room to the east end of the current building.
In this option there would be about nearly 12,500 square feet of new space, including three new classrooms, and 7,400 of remodeled space.
Option 2 would provide more space and be more expensive. Two additions, one on the southeast corner of the building and another on the northwest corner, would create about 21,000 square feet of new space. Under this option another 11,000 square feet would be remodeled.
Some current classrooms would be enlarged and every grade level would get a new breakout room. The current gym would remain but the bleachers would be removed to gain more space.
A new common area, lunchroom and media center would be built. There would be five new large learning spaces and nine new smaller learning spaces. This option would reduce the size of the existing playground, because the addition on the northwest side of the current building would encroach upon the playground.
Option 3 is the most ambitious option of all and a likely non-starter. Matlock called it a “blue sky” option. It would add 20,900 square feet to the current building and remodel another 23,700 square feet at a cost of nearly $15 million.
In Option 3 every existing classroom would be made larger. Matlock said that the existing classrooms at Ames are 50 to 150 square feet smaller than currently recommended.
The third option would include heavy remodeling with existing walls coming down. A new gym would be built on the east end of the building and new classrooms would be added to the northwest corner of the building.
The current gym would be turned into a lunchroom/multipurpose room would be created. Seven new large learning spaces would be added to go along with five new small learning spaces. This option, too, could reduce the amount of outdoor play space.
The school board will discuss their reactions to the drawings at their next meeting on Aug. 15. School board members are also anxious to hear reactions from the community to the drawings.
Option 3 seems to be more than the board and administration want to spend or do.
“I think it’s interesting to put it out there for consideration, but I think it’s more than we’d be willing to address and more than really more than probably we realistically need,” said Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye.
In their initial comments, some board members expressed some reluctance about spending so much on Ames School, when other elementary schools in the district also have needs.
“Do we want to create one elementary school to have lots of things that other schools don’t have?” asked board member Lynda Murphy, noting that there are no breakout rooms in the other elementary schools.
Rich Regan echoed the concern.
“We have to consider this in the context of every property that the district has,” Regan said.
Ryan-Toye also said that the district must consider what to do at Ames in the context of the entire school district.
“We know we need to do work at Ames,” Ryan-Toye said. “We purchased that house with intention to do work at Ames, but we also know we need to do work at all of our schools, particularly all of our elementary schools.”