Cutting-edge technology, open spaces for collaborative learning and an expansive center to promote literacy are among the key factors considered in the planning and design of a $20 million elementary school in the Northland to serve K-5 students and to accommodate a growing population in the area.
Administrators, designers and Northview elementary choir students May 18 broke ground on Northview Elementary at 3900 NE 92nd St. in Kansas City, North. The school is expected to open in August 2018.
Students could be heard chanting, “We are Northview, yes!” just before they joined administrators in shoveling the first batch of dirt on the site.
“It really takes some visionary planning on the board’s part to predict when we need to open new schools,” said North Kansas City School District Superintendent Dan Clemens of the decision to build the new school.
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Administrators said the need was based on the growing population north of I-52 Highway. During a slow year, the district will grow by about 150 students, Clemens said. Other years it can grow by as many as 300 or more students, he added.
The 58,077-square-foot, two-story structure will sit on 35 acres of land and serve up to 600 students. The building will include 30 classrooms that surround a media center.
The idea, administrators said, is to allow students access to the library and media center at all times of the day.
“The students who are growing up today and that are going to our schools… They have had technology in their lives since they were born, and so we don’t want to slow that down for them,” Clemens said. “We try to get our students to be beyond the four walls of the classroom and to experience more things utilizing technology.”
Northview Elementary currently sits adjacent to the new site and will be repurposed for a sixth-grade center. The elementary school will retain its name when the new building opens, while the old building will house the Gateway 6th Grade Center.
JE Dunn will lead construction on the building.
Lead architect Greg Porter of Hollis + Miller Architects said many factors are considered when designing a new school, including how to create inspiring spaces for kids to learn.
“A lot of us went to schools that were corridors and classrooms and it wasn’t a whole lot more than that,” Porter said. “When we look at schools now, we want to create an exciting place for students to visit every day and for learning to take place in a number of different modalities.”
The district raised funds for the project through the North Kansas City Bond sale passed last summer. The $114 million, no-tax bond sale allows for the construction of two new elementary schools, including Northview.
Starr Rich, principal at Northview for five years, said she and other principals in the district collaborated with the design team to brainstorm ways to create an innovative space that meets the demands of an evolving learning environment — one that involves technology and shared learning.
“The design of the building is made for flexible and collaborative spaces, so it’s teaching students to be more independent and work together with their peers in their learning journey,” Rich said.
The collaborative spaces include classrooms opening up to one another, community spaces for students to gather and share information, and flexible seating areas, Rich said.
The district will break ground next month on Rising Hill Elementary at Northeast 108th Street and North Eastern Road in Kansas City, North. Like Northview Elementary, Rising Hill is slated to open in August 2018.