Flexible classroom spaces envisioned for new Port Townsend school

Architectural firm Integrus Architecture of Seattle offers new details of what the planned school will likely look like.

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend School District’s new $26.5 million elementary school on Grant Street will be filled with flexible spaces that facilitate learning in new ways, the School Board was told.

The Port Townsend School Board heard Monday from architectural firm Integrus Architecture of Seattle new details of what the new school, which has yet to be named, will likely look like.

The new building will feature several clusters of 900 square-foot and 1,200 square-foot classrooms that surround an open courtyard, said Loretta Sachs of Integrus.

Voters in February approved a $40,977,588 Port Townsend School bond that will be used to fund construction of the new elementary school and make improvements to Port Townsend High School.

Construction activity on the new school is expected in the spring of 2017. The school is scheduled to open in fall of 2018.

The new school is to be constructed on the current athletic field, a raised area behind the Grant Street school, which was built in 1956.

It will add fourth and fifth grades and Blue Heron Middle School would adopt the traditional middle school configuration of sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

Sachs on Monday presented proposed renderings and schematics to the School Board.

The classrooms are designed to be flexible and allow teachers, who likely will be team-teaching, to split the room into four distinct types of learning environments, she said.

The I and U shaped rooms will allow teachers to form zones, where students can work together or sit on a soft seat in the corner, working independently.

“You can use flexible furnishing to divide the classroom into different zones,” Sachs told the School Board.

Classrooms will have movable walls that will allow the school to re-purpose the space if need be. With the movable walls, three 1,200 square-foot rooms can be turned into two 1,800 foot rooms if the need arises, she said.

To create the design, the firm worked with teachers. After seeing the current version of the design, one teacher said it’s exactly what the teachers had envisioned at the beginning of the process.

“We’ll continue to have more discussions with the district and the staff to develop more detail about the building,” Sachs said, adding architects will soon be tackling what exactly the interior will look like.

“What we’ve heard is important to the district and staff are highly flexible learning environments, learning environments that support collaboration and that relationship of that inside, outside connection.”

The bond for the school was approved in February and

Board member Laura Tucker raised concerns she said she has heard from parents and teachers about the new school.

Among the concerns was larger class sizes, since teachers would be team teaching.

Nathaniel O’Hara, board member, said with the team teaching approach, teachers would be able to give more attention to individual students while another teacher leads the rest of the class.

The new school is designed for 600 kids, about 20 percent than current enrollment, Sachs said.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at [email protected].