Hogsett renovation includes two new wings, increased play areas for children

Published 3:01 am Friday, January 26, 2018

Renderings courtesy of the Danville Independent Schools
A rendering from Studio Kremer Architecture shows the layout of the Mary G. Hogsett Primary School, highlighting outside play areas. The driveway will be shifted slightly, moving to the south and making more greenspace available near the school.

With Toliver nearing completion to become the Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School and home to the Danville Independent Schools’ second through fifth grade students, the district is gearing up to work on Hogsett Elementary, transforming it into the Mary G. Hogsett Primary School and home to the district’s preschool through first grade students.

“The cool thing I’m excited about is play space,” said Superintendent Keith Look. “You want pre-K, K, one kids to have a lot of room to play. There’s a lot of motor skills developing.”

The plan includes multiple play spaces for the children, such as a garden area, multiple standard play areas, paved play areas and to transform the gymnasium into an indoor facility for play, by potentially putting down a softer floor than the current gym floor.

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“This age of kids, if it’s zero degrees and raining, those kids still need recess … This is going to add that capability to it,” he said.

The changes really start at the road. When completed, the drive to the Mary G. Hogsett Primary School will shift south from the current entrance, making it more of a straight road, including some parking before turning up in front of the school, as it currently does, where there will still be parking available.

“By dropping the road down, we can use the green space (made available),” Look said.

One of the big changes to the building will be the addition of a preschool wing, situated to the south of the gymnasium. There are four rooms in the preschool area — three designated as classrooms and one designated as a FLEX space, or a space that can be converted to suit the needs. There’s also space in front of those rooms, a wider hallway or foyer-type area, that can be used for special classes, such as art or music.

Behind the classrooms, there will be a play area for the preschool children, which has direct access to the rooms and to the gym area.

Situated behind the gymnasium will be another play area.

The driveway change will also relate to the addition — there will be an entrance for preschool children, complete with a covered awning, for parents to complete drop off and pick up before and after school. During school, the entrance will be closed.

There will also be an inner lane to allow parents to bypass the first entrance if they have a kindergarten or first grade student.

During school hours, Look said, they still want visitors to sign in and out through the main entrance, which will also be undergoing some changes. Architects plan to center the entrance up and open up a direct path into the cafeteria, removing the existing stage. There will be small areas going into the cafeteria, such as special eating spaces or areas for meeting with students privately. The cafeteria will also have an outside eating space, he said.

Near the wing that currently houses the library, there will be an outdoor amphitheater created.

The school as it currently exists will be divided into kindergarten and first grade sections — walls will have to be moved in the kindergarten wing because they are required to have more space, per state requirements, Look said.

Another big change will be an addition on the western end, nearest to Waveland Avenue, that will house the school’s Family Resource Center and counseling offices. There will also be a large flex space available there. A door will divide the addition off from the rest of the school, Look said, so it can be used whenever the Family Resource Center staff needs to make it available.

One of the things that won’t change will be the staff parking area and the bus path — both will remain behind the school, with students and staff entering in the cafeteria.

Look said now the discussion becomes figuring out how to complete the plan. Before bidding can begin on the project, the final school date has to be set so they can tell contractors what day the keys will be made available.

“I’m not sure how much you can get done in a summer,” Look said. “Right now (closing day) is a moving target.”

The construction project is expected to be an 18-month construction project.

Ideally, the project will be competed by the 2019-2020 school year.