About 20 elementary school students combed bookshelves and read magazines beneath the basketball hoops in the old Community Elementary School gymnasium Tuesday.
The old gym is serving as the school’s library, one of many reassignments of space in district buildings as the schools strive to keep referendum construction projects on track.
“It feels pretty natural. It feels like a library even though it’s a little, old gymnasium,” Superintendent Dennis Pauli said.
District officials said they wanted to complete the referendum projects in one year, so some adjustments had to be made.
“It’s unique to have the movement we did,” Pauli said. “We had so many people moving.”
Edgerton residents in November 2018 passed a $40.6 million referendum to renovate and expand Community Elementary School, add secure entrances at multiple buildings and upgrade science labs, the commons area, band/choir rooms and offices at the high school.
More than 60 staff members have new classrooms or offices this school year as construction continues. Fourth grade was relocated to a different section of the school, requiring other classes to move.
Library teacher Kris Chapados said there isn’t much room for the kids to sit and read, but the adjustment has been pretty smooth.
“It’s actually been a great experience. The key to any library or space is the books. That’s the most important part, and the kids are excited that all the books are here,” she said.
People are often surprised to see how much the space feels and operates like a library.
“You walk into this space, and you’re like, ‘Yup, this is a library,’” Chapados said. “People have been really pleasantly surprised.”
Fifth grade went to middle school, which caused some middle school teachers to double up.
At the high school, counselors moved out so technology education could move in. The old technology education room was converted into an alternative high school space. The counselors moved into the old main office along with special education.
Starting next trimester, there will be no art classroom for the elementary school kids because of construction, so art class will be taught off a cart wheeled into classrooms.
Principal Mark Coombs, Assistant Principal Craig Lodahl and Athletic Director Jon Dupuis all share an office, dubbed the “dorm room.” The space also is occasionally used as the nurse’s office and in-school suspension room.
While the principals sometimes have to leave the room for meetings for confidentiality, Coombs said the level of communication is much better this year.
“It probably can’t get any better than it is right now,” he said. “If there’s ever any questions, I can literally wheel my chair over a few feet and ask someone a question.”
And while the school might seem a little cramped for the next few months, the end result makes it all worth it, Coombs said.
“This is a great problem to have. When the community supports us as well as they have, you will never hear me complain about this.”
Pauli said the changes took some adjusting, but the focus now is on continuing to improve as the district prepares for new facilities.
“Everybody has been incredibly positive. If you walked in, you really wouldn’t notice anything other than it being a little crowded,” he said.
Eventually, the choir and band rooms will need to be addressed while large, concrete stages are demolished, Pauli said. In the coming months, more movements might be needed, but the superintendent said he expects a positive result.
“It’s just one inconvenient year, but our attitude would make it either really inconvenient or not a big deal,” he said. “The staff has just been incredible with how they’ve handled everything.”