Big Improvements are Coming to Winooski School
by David Epstein, June 24, 2019
The city of Winooski is moving forward with plans to modernize and expand the Winooski School – the sole public school that serves all students in the district, from Pre-K through high school. This major project is a testament to the community’s commitment to investing in their students and addressing critical infrastructure needs.
TruexCullins has been working with the Winooski School District on what is known as pre-bond work: we guided the committee through a process to determine the space needs, produce design options, and communicate the possibilities to the broader Winooski community. The reception from the community was extremely positive, and last month the voters approved a $57.8 million bond that paves the way forward for this long awaited project.
A GROWING STUDENT BODY
Unlike most school districts in the state, the student population in Winooski is steadily growing. The district currently serves approximately 880 students, and this is expected to grow by 250 students over the next decade. Much of this growth has been made possible due to a rise in the number of New Americans. Winooski is the most diverse school district in the state, with 58% of the student body non-white. This provides for a wonderfully diverse and unique educational experience, but the building itself has been struggling to keep up.
All of the students are housed under one roof. The elementary, middle and high schools share a common entrance in a building that has multiple wings constructed over a span of 43 years, from 1957 to 2000.
The facility is suffering from aging building systems and insufficient learning and support spaces. Earlier this year, the school had to close due to leaking pipes. This project will address much of the 140,000-square-foot facility in a phased approach, with almost half of the cost going toward replacement of aging roofing, floors, windows, electrical and heating systems.
Other improvements will address programming and space deficiencies. Today, the school has one space that doubles as the gym and cafeteria, which must be reconfigured every day between serving lunch and physical education classes. After the renovations, the school will have two gymnasiums, a separate cafeteria, and a rebuilt performing arts center.
DESIGNING FOR THE WHOLE CHILD
The Winooski School District understands that the best education is not achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach. Over the past few years, the district has been developing a system of Student Centered Learning, or what’s known as proficiency-based learning, that tailors graduation proficiencies to the individual student. Goals are clearly identified, and students are provided with personal pathways for growth.
Winooski’s proficiency-based learning paradigm aligns nicely with the conceptual framework for school design developed by TruexCullins: the Whole Child Framework. Throughout the design process for the Winooski School, we will be following this framework to ensure that the design of the physical facility promotes the educational goals of the school and is a place that fully supports 21st century learning.
Our focus is on designing for the Whole Child, which includes: Wellness (creating safe and healthy environments); Learning (providing educational spaces aligned with pedagogy); and Engagement (connecting with the community).
We are looking forward to a wonderful season of growth in anticipation of the modernization and expansion of the Winooski School. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2020 and anticipated to be completed approximately 18 months later.