By NEESEY PAYNE
Although a small gathering, it was packed with big ideas as J.D. Price, vice president, OWPR Architects and Engineers, engaged members of the community about their ideas concerning Pulaski Middle School, Dublin Middle School and Dublin Elementary School.
The primary topic was safety. Price said all three schools had the same issue of not having the main office near the entrance of the school. He said it’s always a challenge, especially when renovating, to “secure a pathway to the (main office area) or get the front office at the entrance of a building,” he said.
Brad Winesett said it would be nice to have an extra set of doors before the main entrance that would be locked to allow extra security.
Price said all the exterior doors are locked at Riverlawn Elementary except for the main door. He said if someone in the main office feels there is someone trying to enter the building who is a threat, he or she can press a button that will lock the main entrance door. He said Sandy Hook Elementary School had the same kind of locking system. Parents were also in favor of having a security camera system in the building.
Brewster said the school system has ordered a camera security system that would allow a person in the front office to buzz a person into the building. Although a temporary solution, Brewster said it will help. He added, until the security systems are installed in the schools, teachers have been monitoring open areas during the day to direct people to the main office.
Another safety concern was the distance of some classrooms from the main building. Sandra Graham suggested that vocational buildings be moved closer to the main building or even have those classes housed in the main building.
Price asked if there were programs not currently available including sports and extra-curricular activities that they would like to see offered at the elementary and middle school levels. Martha Winesett said she would like to see cross country at the middle school level. She liked the fact that Riverlawn has a soccer field and believed it would be a nice addition to any of the schools. Others commented they would like to see a baseball field, basketball courts and CAD added to instruction.
It was agreed that one of the main attractions of the Riverlawn campus is the playground and track. Not only are they enjoyed by students, but the community, as well. Because of community use of the gym at Riverlawn Elementary, parents said they would like to see more gym space, especially more seating and more parking. They also liked having a community room and believed there should be more of those added in the school. Price said sometimes it’s “hard to anticipate how much a community room will be used.” He was glad to see a positive response to the inclusion of community rooms in the building.
Community members also agreed that the middle schools would need an auditorium as opposed to a space that functions as a gym, cafeteria and auditorium in one. With Riverlawn being within walking distance of a neighborhood, Martha Winesett said it would be nice to have the school accessible to the neighborhood instead of gated off.
As far as design, community members agreed sixth, seventh and eighth graders should be separated into different wings of the building. Brad Winesett said although it would take up more property, he liked the idea of a circular campus. Price said OWPR has done similar designs in the past.
Lisa Saunders said she believed the design should be “a happy medium” between modern and conservative when it comes to the middle schools. She said an abundance of color use on the walls and floors like at Riverlawn Elementary would not have to be used, but color is a must. She said the transition from elementary to middle school should be gradual. “It’s enough for some to get on a new bus,” said Saunders.
“Natural light is a must,” said Graham.
Graham asked if an official study had been conducted concerning student behavior and natural light. Brewster said an official study has not been carried out, however replacing the carpet in the high school locker banks with tile, replacing the light fixtures, and getting new lockers has allowed for greater visibility and a significant change of behavior in students.
Price asked if there were features at any of the schools community members would like to see preserved. Community members said there weren’t any they could think of. Saunders said the school system should “level” the buildings and start from scratch; others agreed.
The next community meeting will be held tonight, Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Dublin Middle School, at 6:30 p.m. All are invited to come and voice their opinions concerning the school study. Those who are unable to attend are encouraged to fill out an online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/83WQ5D8.