KIMBERLY — As construction crews worked nearby Tuesday, Luke Schroeder looked around the fourth- and fifth-grade wing at Kimberly’s new elementary school.
After walking into one room, the Kimberly School District superintendent commented: “It’s really starting to look like a classroom.”
Construction of Kimberly’s second elementary school — Stricker Elementary School — is slated to wrap up in June. The new school will accommodate students starting in the fall.
Inside the building, classroom windows are high up on the wall toward a slanted ceiling, letting in natural light. Teachers didn’t want too many windows because it would mean sacrificing wall space.
Fourth- and fifth-grade classroom door frames are painted a shade of orange called habanero chile and each hallway has its own color scheme. Throughout the building, there are “flex spaces” — dead-end corners off hallways where small groups of students can meet.
An average of 40 to 50 workers each day are putting up wall panels outside, installing electrical conduits and working on suspended ceilings, said Larry Pollard, site superintendent for contractor Starr Corp.
Work on the 50,000-square-foot new elementary school, with a $10.7 million price tag, has been underway since spring 2017. The 10-acre campus is at Polk Street West and Emerald Drive North, east of the Ballards Way subdivision.
The new campus will alleviate crowding at the existing Kimberly Elementary School, which has about 900 students and is the largest elementary school in Idaho.
Building a new school means district leaders will have to draw new attendance boundaries. It’s roughly along 3700 North and the train tracks. Students in north Kimberly will go to the new school, and those to the south will go to Kimberly Elementary School. The exception: All fifth-grade students will attend Stricker Elementary School next year. That’s because once the new school opens, remodeling will begin at Kimberly Elementary School and there won’t be enough space to accommodate all grade levels.
On the last two days of the school year in late May to early June, teachers will move out of the portion of Kimberly Elementary School that will be remodeled. Work will begin the Monday after school’s out.
As he gave a tour Tuesday of the new elementary school, Schroeder pointed out features such as a commons space and lunchroom. It will be separated from the gymnasium by three large garage doors. The gym will feature a rubber floor, which Schroeder said is easier to maintain than a wood floor. The school principal will easily be able to step out of the administrative office to monitor what’s happening, Schroeder said as he stood in the commons space. “We really feel this will be the heart of the building.”
The school is designed with good sight lines to make it easier to see from one side to the other, he said. Inside the main entrance, visitors will be directed to a school office. Another security feature is a switch that can immediately lock down the school’s exit doors and each classroom wing.
The school features three wings: kindergarten and first grades, second and third grades, and fourth and fifth grades. There are four classrooms for each grade level, but only two for kindergarten.
Classrooms for the same grade level are connected by interior doors. That means students and teachers can move among classrooms without going into the hallway.
Other features in the new elementary school include art, music, library and computer lab spaces, a nurses’ station and sick room with its own bathroom, a quiet room for students, a conference room with its own exit, therapy room, and separate employee work and break rooms.
Outside, the school will have separate student drop-off and pick-up loops for school buses and cars. Landscaping and putting in playground equipment, Pollard said, will happen this spring or early summer once the weather improves.