Animas High School has two conceptual plans to build its permanent facility, and school officials are gathering input from the teachers, staff members, parents, students and community members about which one they like best.
Head of School Sean Woytek said it is important to have an open, grass-roots and organic process in place to hear comments from various stakeholders to help provide guidance to architects on a final design, which will be based on the preferred conceptual plan.
Early next week, Woytek said AHS will give Humphries Poli Architects of Denver its preferred selection of the two conceptual plans, both of which envision a permanent school of about 39,000 square feet. The preferred plan will undergo further refinement and serve as the starting point when final architectural plans for the building are designed.
Teachers, staff members and the board of directors examined the conceptual plans last week. Other groups also will examine the two plans and offer their critiques through early next week.
“The building will reflect the 21st century thinking we’re doing in the classroom, and I’m really excited that the work we’re doing in the classroom will be reflected in the building,” said Sara Price, an 11th-grade teacher and a member of the school’s Design Advisory Group for the new school.
Price said she is especially happy that the new plans are integrated with outdoor spaces, have flexible breakout spaces and maker labs.
“It’s a place where our project can come alive,” she said.
Stakeholders and school officials will continue to shape the preferred conceptual plan through Jan. 28. At the end of the month, Woytek said, school officials should have cost estimates for a final facility and a good conceptual design to show, which should be key to fundraising for the permanent school.
AHS, 271 Twin Buttes Ave., which currently has 252 students, is using modular buildings with about 25,000 square feet of total space at its temporary location just west of downtown along U.S. Highway 160.
Woytek said the site for the permanent facility will be in Twin Buttes, about 1 mile west of the current campus and can accommodate 300 students.
An architect for the final plan will be determined after another bidding process.
Enhancing and encouraging the use of natural light; creating more flexible work and class spaces; and encouraging flexible commons space that can be used by students, teachers and outside community groups are all features stakeholders have agreed would be valuable in a new building, Woytek said.
“The current modulars we have are not conducive to small-group work,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to meet and to get something done when the next group is 2 feet away and you can hear them.”
Woytek said it is also valuable to have a school designed around AHS’s project-based curriculum, which would put an emphasis on laboratories, woodshops and maker labs.
Steve Smith, an AHS chemistry teacher and a member of the Design Advisory Group, said the new design also takes into account increased security measures with only one entrance. The entry will be secured and in line of sight of the administrators.
Classrooms will have doors to the outside, but they will be used only for exiting, Smith said.
AHS intends to apply for a Building Excellent Schools Today grant from the Colorado Department of Education by Feb. 25, and Woytek said school officials should know by May if they get the grant.
BEST grants were established in 2008 to help public schools, including charter schools, with maintenance needs of existing buildings and help to finance, design and construct new buildings. Grants are funded by revenue from state lands, the Colorado Lottery and the state’s marijuana excise tax.
A date for start of construction and completion of the new, permanent school has not been set, Woytek said.
“All the stakeholders, students, families, teachers and staff have enjoyed being involved in the process and speaking and working with Humphries Poli to bring their vision of a building that will meet our needs to the design team,” Smith said.