The good news is that the new Altama Elementary School will have many more restroom facilities than the current school offers.
The number and widespread placement of bathrooms in a brand new, state-of the art, 100,000-square-foot elementary school may not some like the biggest highlight to all, but that feature in the construction plans drew the loudest cheers from school staff Thursday.
School administrators and the project’s architects unveiled preliminary drawings of the new school plans at a Leadership Listens session at Altama Elementary on Thursday afternoon.
Construction on the new school should take about 18 months, said Virgil Cole, superintendent of Glynn County Schools. The work could potentially be complete by December 2020. The new facility, to be located at 6045 Altama Ave., will replace one of the oldest school buildings in the school district.
“Today I did sign the closing to the property,” Cole said. “… We’re excited about that. It’s going to be a great school. It’s going to be an asset to this community. Again, we couldn’t be more excited.”
The new school’s site is much larger than that on which the current school is located, said John Tuten, lead architect on the project.
A bus loop will go around the school, and the parking lot will include about 120 spaces.
There will be a play area about the size of a football field.
“Meeting with the staff, we determined that they wanted a K-1 wing at the top here and the individual play area for the younger children,” Tuten said. “The building is about 100,000 square feet. It’s got a PE facility the size of the new Burroughs-Molette (Elementary), which would be similar to Sterling Elementary School.”
The administrative offices are to be placed across the front of the facility, Tuten said, and a courtyard in the center will allow natural light into part of the school.
The school wings will house two grades each.
And, best of all, every kindergarten and first grade classroom will have two individual toilets that can be accessed from within the room. The teachers and staff applauded this news, as well as the plans for adult restrooms in every wing.
“We don’t want anybody waiting in line too long,” said Brock Tobaben, one of the project architects.
The Glynn County Board of Education previously planned to build the new school on the current school property but changed that plan when the community came forward with worries that the adjacent Superfund site made the property unfit for a school.
Critics of that plan have since commended the school board for responding and changing track. Rachael Thompson, project manager for the Glynn Environmental Coalition and one of those who spoke out against building the new school next to a Superfund site, applauded the new plan in an email to school system leadership Thursday evening.
“We are grateful for all your hard work in selecting the new site and also appreciate your mindfulness in placing the school away from the adjacent wetlands on the new site,” Thompson said.