Salem considers two new schools
January 17, 2005
By TRISH GRABER Staff Writer

SALEM -- The Salem City Board of Education plans to embark on a facilities project to accommodate its growing student population and update the aging school buildings.

As an Abbott school district, the state would foot most of the bill for the upgrades.
At last week's board of education meeting, an architectural firm presented the board with facility options for a future project which is in the preliminary stages of planning.

Robert Garrison Sr. and Robert Garrison Jr., architects who work mainly on school-related projects, presented a possible plan for development to the board. The projects would involve revamping the John Fenwick School and Salem Middle School, and building two new school buildings in the district. The John Fenwick School would house pre-kindergarten to second grade, and the middle school would be a 3rd through 8th grade school. The second school could be divided into two sections, separating grades three through five from the upper grades.

In addition to adding space, the new buildings would address code changes the old schools do not meet. According to Garrison Jr., the John Fenwick School, which was constructed in 1954, has classroom structure problems that would be resolved by a new facility.

"The building has outlived its' educational life," Garrison said. Facility problems at the school include connected classrooms without separate doors that may disrupt instruction in adjoining rooms, and classrooms that connect off of a pod, or main room.

Students at the three-story middle school encounter challenges such as moving between the schools three floors between classes.

Board members also considered separating the two proposed schools between the third and fourth grade levels, continuing the current grade structure.
The school district is still in the preliminary stages of the project. They must first decided on the grade structure of the schools before submitting an application to the state department of education. The department of education has up to 60 days to approve the application, which will then be sent to the School Construction Corporation.

"This is a starting point," Garrison said.

The project will be 100 percent funded by the state, due to the district's Abbott status which was declared in June 2004. Abbott status provides Salem City School District with the same kindergarten through 12th grade funding given to suburban districts, pre-school for all 3- and 4-year-olds, additional educational programs and funding for facility improvement.


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