Turner making progress on referendum projects

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News The original 1963 wood bleachers and gym floor at Turner High School have been removed and replaced with new handicap-accessible bleachers as part of the November 2018 referendum. Superintendent Dennis McCarthy encourages people to go on the district's website to take a virtual tour of the renovations and new facilities which will be coming soon as part of the referendum at turnerschools.org/referendum.

BELOIT - Beloit Turner School District officials are inviting the public to take a virtual tour of its new middle and high school STEAM addition as well as its future elementary school at its referendum website, turnerschools.org/referendum.

"It's exciting to see what we have already completed and look into the future of what is coming," said Superintendent Dennis McCarthy.

McCarthy shared the latest updates on projects approved in the November 2018 facilities referendum for $26.8 million in an interview. Turner has completed Phase 1; will be embarking on Phase 2 which will include the middle and high school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEAM) addition and renovations; and is planning its new elementary school.

Phase 1 has been completed with safe and secure entrances at Powers Elementary and the middle and high school. Visitors are now required to buzz their way into the building and will be direct access only to the office until they are checked in. A second set of doors have been secured and expanded and anti-ballistic film has been applied to all the glass entries. With Raptor Technology, visitors who will be interacting with students will have their driver's license or other identification scanned to detect if they are sex offenders. After the scan, a machine will print out a visitor's badge with a photo for them to wear.

McCarthy said the original 1963 wood bleachers and gym floor have been removed and replaced with new handicap accessible bleachers.

"I think it really catches your eye. When you walk in, it has a new and fresh feel to it that also fits Turner and its branding and clearly shows our colors and who we are. Visitors will be appreciative of the comfort," McCarthy said.

McCarthy said work will begin in November on the new STEAM addition. The drawings for the new project will go out for bid on Sept. 27. Bids will be due Oct. 24. The renovation projects will begin in late May with completion by the start of August 2020-2021 school year.

"The planning and design input from our staff along with the architects work will result in a significant and exciting upgrade to our classes and the career pathways impacted by this work," McCarthy said.

The 12,000-square-foot space will include a fabrication lab, a middle school tech ed lab, middle school classroom, a physics and engineering lab, a large medals and separate wood shop addition as well as middle school and high school art rooms. All of the spaces will surround a collaborative student commons area.

McCarthy noted plans are also in the early stages of development for the renovation of the high school weight room.

Phase 3 of the referendum projects got underway in December. McCarthy said there are preliminary site plans and building drawings are being developed with a core planning team led by Bray Architects.

Part 3 includes plans to close Townview Elementary at 2442 W. Beloit Newark Road, and move second grade from Powers to the new building creating a new second through fifth grade elementary school northwest of the middle school and high school campus. Bartells Drive will be extended to service the new elementary school. Ground is expected to break for the new school in March of 2020.

McCarthy said bids for the new elementary school will go out Jan. 31, 2020 and are due Feb. 28 of 2020 with construction to begin in March of 2020. The new elementary school will be completed by spring or early summer of 2021 to be ready for the 2021-2022 school year.

McCarthy said the new school will have attractive features such as a prominent library multimedia space with tall vertical windows and well as large windows throughout allowing in lots of natural light.

"The library will feature natural light, flexible student seating, maker space stations and two flexible classrooms off the back," McCarthy said.

The new school includes a cafeteria and commons, a two-station gym and the most modern features in education which promotes collaboration. For example, traditional hallways will be replaced by larger corridors with some space for independent workspaces or small group gatherings. In education, McCarthy said the days of row seating are gone with more of an emphasis on collaboration and movement.

There will be main wings off the core of the building. Each grade level will have its own side of the wing as well as themes such as river; industrial manufacturing; wilderness; and agriculture.

Outside the new school there will be two separate drop off circles for better traffic flow; a large parking lot and a separate bus circle.

McCarthy said the new elementary is currently unnamed, but the district will undertake a naming process. McCarthy said he encourages the public to be patient with all the upcoming work. While it's exciting to see the new features coming to life, he said the district is taking it one step at a time to make sure everything is done correctly and is the best for students and the community.

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