The first major construction project paid for by the referendum approved by voters in the Sauk Prairie School District in April begins next month at Tower Rock Elementary School on Denzer Road.
The construction will be going on during the coming school year, but building principal Carla Peterson said preparations for that time have been made.
“What we call our recess door will be under construction,” Peterson said. “It’s already closed up, and they have moved that and created a safe fire exit in the back of the building and an exit to a temporary playground.”
With the closing of Black Hawk Elementary, the project includes the addition of 12 new classrooms on the south side of Tower Rock to accommodate up to 250 students with room for growth in the future.
“You’re always sad to see a building close,” Peterson said. “But what we can offer students and families is going to be so much more in this centrally located building.”
Tower Rock will consist of four-year-old Kindergarten through fifth-grade students, after the combination of Black Hawk students.
“Having all of our students from four-year-old Kindergarten to fifth grade under one roof allows us to do so many more things,” Peterson said. “It takes away the transition of second to third grade (at a new school). Most of our families have a child at Black Hawk and one at Tower Rock. That really simplifies every thing from newsletters, open houses and other programs. It’s going to make things better for the kids and families and allow staff to do more team teaching.”
A new and expanded playground will also be located on the south side of the building, with an outdoor garden area on the north side.
There are currently 100 students attending Tower Rock.
Construction is expected to be completed by the start of the 2015-16 school year.
The project includes construction of a new gymnasium on the north side of the building.
The current gymnasium will be a cafeteria and multi-purpose room.
“Now it’s either a gym or a place we eat lunch,” Peterson said. “It can’t be both at the same time. Our opportunities will grow exponentially.”
The exterior re-design of the old gymnasium area celebrates the surrounding farmland and will have the look of a barn.
The façade of the main entranceway honors the rocky ledges and outcroppings in the area and will be covered with a natural looking rock façade.
“When we had our first initial meeting with the architects, we talked about wanting the building to fit in with its surroundings rather than be a big old modern structure plunked in the middle of the country side,” Peterson said.
The building expansion includes an expanded curriculum including agricultural education, Spanish language learning and arts.
“Art has been done on a cart for many years at Black Hawk because there was no space for a classroom,” Peterson said. “Our kids will experience art the way it should be. It’s tough to do clay and those messy projects, so having a designated art room will be a great piece.”