During a special-called meeting Thursday, the Kingsport Board of Education formally approved basic site plans and schematic floor plan drawings for the school. Parking and traffic patterns can still be flexible, based on the motion approved.
Much of the building plans, including its exterior look, remains consistent with plans presented to the BOE in late December. The school building itself will feature a crescent-shaped design with three "learning houses," or flexible classroom and combined teaching spaces, to the rear of the building. A single main hallway would run through the center of the building on both floors.
The first floor would be home to main office and workspace; a pre-K learning center; space for special-needs students; and music and arts classrooms. The first floor will also be flanked by a full-size gymnasium on one end and a "cafetorium" (cafeteria/auditorium) with a platform stage on the other. The second floor would house classrooms for older students, as well as a large library with storytelling and reading/media areas.
The major change to the building - instigated by BOE member concerns at the December work session - was the addition of a primary education reading room on the first floor.
Other minor changes include a room for geothermal pumps and small pockets in the gym and cafetorium to house room dividers.
"The big change we made based on your input as that we developed a primary education reading room downstairs that would be linked with a mezzanine," said DLR architect Chris Elnicki. "It would kind of have the feel of a college library or a Borders Book Store. The younger children have a grown-up space to learn in."
As for the site itself, the new drawings call for the school to be lowered in elevation by two feet in order to save costs on fill needed. Parking and traffic patterns were also adjusted slightly by moving the front entrance approximately 50 feet and straightening out parking circles in the rear of the building to allow for increased distance between buses.
Buses will now queue in the rear of the building, separate from car pickup.
Parents will be able to enter on the side of the building and line up around the traffic circle in the front of the building, which architects and site planners say will allow for more cars to stack without crossing onto the main road.
"We think that kind of cleans things up a little bit," said Jim French, architect with DLR Group. "What we're trying to do is to give you enough stacking distance so the cars don't have to get out on the street. I think the design right now will allow up to 100 cars to stack on the site."
The plan currently shows room for approximately 100 parking spaces for staff and visitors, though DLR Group will look at ways to add more parking at the request of the BOE. The main concern with the parking was lack of parking for special events and other high-volume traffic times.
Now that schematics and basic site plans have been approved, architects and planners will continue to work on more specifics of the school. The footprint of the building and major spaces, however, will remain the same throughout the rest of the process.
"A the schematic level we just want to make sure there's enough real estate," Elnicki said. "As long as we have enough room, we can do whatever suits you."