Designs for a new Hamilton Elementary School were unveiled Monday at a special Moline-Coal Valley School Board meeting. About 60 people filled the cafeteria at the John Deere Middle School to see and hear about the proposal for the school.
"I think this is going to be one of the finest, if not the finest, elementary education facilities in all of northwestern Illinois," said David Moyer, superintendent of the district. "I'm extremely excited about the plans."
Design and transportation committees — composed of district staff, community members, local officials, architects from Legat Architects and construction managers from Russell Construction — provided feedback at all levels of the design work.
"It's important to get different perspectives to consider as we move forward in the process," Moyer said. "These are topics the community is very interested in, so they need to be involved in the communication-input, information-sharing process."
Steve Wasser and his son Jack, who is about to be in third grade at Hamilton, were excited to see the plans.
"I'm a parent, and I just wanted to see the new school and hear all the new ideas to make sure it's a fun, safe and dynamic plan," said Wasser, who is a member of the school's PTA. "It's a really clever idea. I like the open space, the natural light, the areas for socialization. I haven't seen that before in a school."
"I like that there's a courtyard in the middle of the school," Jack said. "It's different from all other schools."
Wasser said he's slightly concerned about Hamilton accommodating 600 students, when now there are around 150.
"We're used to it being a small community school, where we know all of the kids' names and all of the families kind of look out for each other, so you lose a little bit of that with such a big school," he said. "But no, I'm a big fan of construction and newness. I think you need to keep things new and fresh."
Lachelle Reische, a mother of three, said she thought the plans were interesting.
"It seemed very futuristic to me," she said.
Reische said the plans raised traffic concerns for her.
"But I think they'll take it all into consideration," she said. "Overall, I'm excited about all the upgrades in the lunch room and some of the other new amenities that they'll have."
Although the price tag on the renovation is $17.3 million, the project will not affect the current tax rate. Once Ericsson and Garfield elementary schools close and their students start at Hamilton Elementary, the district will save a minimum of $350,000 annually.
School board officials are expected to approve the final design next Monday; Moyer said he expects the school to open for the 2015-16 school year. Groundbreaking could take place next May.