New elementary school will open Tuesday
On Tuesday afternoon, Deb Ehling-Gwin, Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center principal, was smiling a bit brighter.
She had just received word from Supt. Paul Dorathy that her new school on the west edge of town will be opening a week earlier than expected. At the beginning of the month, Dorathy said the plan was to open the new school after Labor Day weekend, but that changed on Tuesday.
“We are very excited,” Ehling-Gwin said. “We are glad to be opening the new school. There is more space and appropriate spaces. What we wanted is something that will help bridge that divide that there is sometimes between home and going to school. The building is very neighborhood-like on the inside. It’s very nice.”
The district’s maintenance staff will be busy moving boxes today and Friday. On Saturday, the staff and parent volunteers will be moving the rest of the boxes into the new building. They will unpack on Sunday and Monday.
Dorathy said there will be no school for the BESPC students on Monday. That includes the current students in the present building and the third-grade students who will be moving into the school. However, the rest of the district will have school Monday.
“In May, we were expecting to be moved in before school started,” Ehling-Gwin said. “So part of the reason everyone is anxious to move in is we are still packed up. We have been living out of boxes since Aug. 2. It’s getting old.”
The BESPC staff and students began the 2010-2011 school year at the old building, 700 Chapel St., but will soon be in the $12.9 million building southwest of the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center. On Monday, the building was inspected and passed after a few changes were made Tuesday.
“I know the staff, students and parents would like to see us get into that new building,” Dorathy said. “We’ve been pushing to get in, but we had a few last-minute details that we had to make sure were taken care of before we felt OK with putting staff and students into that new building. We were able to resolve some of those issues this afternoon. So at this point, we are going ahead with the plan to start school there Tuesday.”
The new building will be welcomed by the BESPC staff, because the old building, which is more than 50 years old, is falling apart, according to Ehling-Gwin.
“This building is getting tired,” she said. “Parts of it are giving in. On Friday, the door handle on the office door quit working and it can’t be repaired. Every day there is something new here that we rejoice won’t happen in the new building.”
Ehling-Gwin and Dorathy both hope the new school will help alleviate many problems that the old building faced. One of the primary items is the transportation issue before and after school.
“I think the congestion that we have every day out here will be lessened at the new building,” Ehling-Gwin said. “People will have to learn how the new system works and what we put in place. If that happens, it will be safer than it has been here.”
Dorathy said there are still some small projects to finish at the new school, but those are minor. He also said the landscaping around the building will take time.
“Any time you move into a new facility, there will be some adjustments you have to make,” Dorathy said. “It won’t be perfect, but those adjustments will be made. Those first few days won’t be perfect, but we’ll get things running smoothly.”