TOWN OF BELOIT

A major referendum project years in the making is wrapping up in the Beloit Turner School District with the opening of Garden Prairie Intermediate School just around the corner.

“This campus is going to be a central piece of our community for the next 50 years and beyond,” Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said. “You’ll never lack with space in this building.”

Part of a $26 million referendum, the brand new 87,000-square-foot building located along South Bartells Drive has a price tag of around $17 million. The school will serve grades two through five beginning this fall and replace Townview Elementary.

Skip Hegemann, the project’s leader with Scherrer Construction, said the building was 98% complete as of Wednesday.

Remaining work in the coming days will include final landscaping, adding lettering to the front entrance, adding another coat of paint to the parking lot, moving in more furniture and installing a few more glass doorways in some classrooms.

“Everything came together pretty well,” Hegemann said. “We’re basically just putting the icing on the cake.”

Despite shipping delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, crews were still able work ahead of schedule as materials arrived. Construction began in July 2020 and will wrap up in the coming days.

School Principal Ryan Bertelsen said he is looking forward to welcoming families into the new building for an in-person open house at the end of August.

He said it will be refreshing for everyone to gather again, particularly after a challenging past year and a half during the pandemic. He added that the new building has lots of wide open spaces that encourage movement and collaboration.

“It’s just great, the timing of being able to do that,” Bertelsen said. “We want to let the kids have an opportunity to be in the building before the first day of school.”

The new school also includes several outdoor learning spaces, which classes are likely to use as weather allows. Bertelsen said those areas will help break up students’ days with a change of scenery.

A full playground set is also completely installed behind the building. The playground is wheelchair accessible and has a rubberized surface on the ground instead of wood chips or gravel.

While it is not yet open to the public, McCarthy said he anticipates kids from surrounding neighborhoods will visit the play equipment outside of school hours.

The district is also planning to add baseball diamonds near the new school.

Inside, the front entrance is fully built out with secure doors, alarm systems and other safety measures.

The gymnasium is complete and will likely be used by various community organizations or youth groups after school hours. It is also expected to serve as backup location for high school sporting events.

A special education wing is close to the library in the center of the building.

The library itself has bookshelves set up with automated blinds to help block out sunlight or allow natural light in.

The school is partitioned into four different grade areas, with specific themes for each grade level. Murals and paintings decorate the walls with references to various community landmarks, such as the Beloit College Powerhouse or Big Hill Park.

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