The SMSD board approved a proposal for the remodel of the East library during their meeting March 26. The renovation will include a new conference room, classroom, more collaborative work spaces and the removal of the main desk and floor bookshelves.
Because new spaces will be constructed in the library, classrooms will be changing locations. However, according to Principal John McKinney, these changes will only occur if construction is completed by the beginning of the 2018-19 school year; it is set to start this summer.
“We will have a completely new library,” McKinney said. “It will open up a lot of the areas that are now taken up by unusable space. It will be a really cool work and hangout environment.”
Although the remodel aims to improve the library’s overall function, staff and extracurriculars have raised concerns about the classroom changes and construction.
If the construction were to continue into the school year, librarian Bill Hiles believes it would create a disruption in the library, especially with so many classes taking place in the area.
“Unfortunately, once it leaves our control we are reliant on others getting their job done before we can do ours,” McKinney said. “So, the construction and remodeling of the library is out of our hands.”
According to Hiles the new classroom, which will hold the debate and forensics program, will be built in the area where the current conference room and TV lounge are located.
The journalism program currently occupies rooms 520 and 521. They’ll continue to use 520, and move into the current debate and forensics room. Room 521 will become an English classroom.
Because the journalism program has nearly 200 students involved, advisor Dow Tate believes the relocation will positively impact the classes, as it provides more space for interviews, photoshoots and equipment storage.
“[Writers] all sit in the hall because it’s really crowded [in the classroom],” Hauberk staff member sophomore Brigid Wentz said. “Everyone could work together more and I feel like communication could be better.”
However, journalism’s move to the fourth floor will result in debate and forensics moving into a smaller space. For juniors and advanced debaters Luke Bledsoe and Anika Radadiya, the revamp feels more like a downgrade. Their current room has enough space to spread out to rehearse speeches and performances, and they fear the new room being built won’t be able to accommodate them.
According to Bledsoe, the large number of incoming advanced debate students next year will make functioning in the new room challenging.
“I’ve definitely heard a bunch of complaints around the debate room, like, ‘I can’t believe we’re getting a smaller room,’” Bledsoe said. “It doesn’t make sense because we have a pretty successful debate team and we’re getting downsized.”
Hiles was also disappointed more conference rooms and blocked off areas for collaborative work weren’t included in the design plan, as many students work on videos and other group projects in the library.
However, Hiles believes the new color scheme and furniture set will energize the library, making it a more collaborative space.
School officials, SSI Furnishings and Hollis and Miller Architects worked together to create the final blueprint.
The current northeast corner will be turned into an area furnished with new couches and coffee tables, or as Hiles refers to it, the “rumpus room.” The center bookshelves will be replaced with “café style seating” containing high-rise tables.
In addition, more TV’s will be installed throughout the library for group presentations and to display school and national news. Due to the removal of the main desk, Hiles will use a large portable cart to check out books and handle technology issues.
The district has given a $125,000 limit for the furniture costs of the renovation, Interim Superintendent Dr. Kenny Southwick said at the board meeting. The rest of the costs, including construction, paint, carpeting, lighting and glass walls for the new conference room will total to $476,000. The funding is coming from a $223 million bond issue that was initiated four years ago, Assistant Superintendent Rick Atha said.
The bond will also pay for library updates at all other SMSD high schools as well as Little Theater renovations.
Despite concerns about the new layout, McKinney believes the classroom shifts are a win-win situation for the classes, and students will ultimately benefit from the new library.
“Nobody likes change, even good change,” McKinney said. “There’s going to be some growing pains as we transition one out and one in, so to make sure we all find our new space and feel comfortable in our new space is important.”