Architects behind Sun Prairie’s two new elementary schools presented the Sun Prairie School Board on Monday, Feb. 6 with an update on the preliminary building plans.

Both the Thompson Road and Grand Avenue schools will be almost identical, but currently the plan for the Thompson Road site also includes an Early Learning Resource Center in the building’s southwest corner.

Chris Michaud, lead designer with Eppstein Uhen Architects, presented the preliminary floor plan of the elementary schools. One side of the building consists of two classroom pods – which he said are designed to be learning communities – with the other side including more public-oriented spaces such as the cafeteria and gymnasium. The second floor of the building will have a third classroom pod, space for special education classrooms, an art room and a library media center.

Classroom pods also include “bubble” rooms that can accommodate extra classes if needed, but could also be purposed for other uses such as a science lab.

At the Thompson Road site, Michaud said the building grounds feature an age-appropriate baseball diamond and soccer field, as well as a playground area with basketball hoops. A student drop off and pickup point loops by the west side of the building by its main entrance, while the bus drop off and pickup point loops around the east, near the second entrance from the playground area. A paved pathway wraps around the north side of the building for emergency vehicle access.

Additionally, the plan includes an easement from the neighborhood north of the school to create pedestrian access to the building while keeping students from cutting through private property, according to project manager Jackie Gilles.

Plans for the buildings’ interiors are not yet finalized, but interior designer Sara Catania said the design concept that will guide design elements in the building is “global community that supports diversity.” For example, each school will have a different color scheme, centralized around the concept of a prairie terrain, with each cluster of classrooms representing different terrains of the world, such as deserts, jungles and mountains.

The Thompson Road plan has been submitted to the City of Sun Prairie as of Jan. 30, according to Michaud. Gilles said EUA plans to submit site plans for the Grand Avenue school to the city on Feb. 13, and meet with the city March 28 so that plans for both locations will be reviewed around the same time.

Change to principal job description approved

The board also approved an update to the district’s job description for principal positions before beginning the search for principals for the two new elementary schools.

Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning and Equity Stephanie Leonard-Witte said the change puts a stronger focus on instructional leadership and strategic planning in addition to their management and disciplinary duties.

“It really brings it up to date with the work that we currently ask our principals to do,” Leonard-Witte said.

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