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Capital project would create secure HS entrance, Learning Commons

Sept. 27, 2016

The proposed learning commonsFor the last year and a half, the district facilities committee, the administrators and the board of education have been identifying improvements to keep Schalmont a safe and structurally sound school.

One such recommendation was to create a more secure entrance point at the high school for the public.

“At both the middle school and elementary, visitors have to enter a vestibule before gaining access through the main office to the rest of the building,” Superintendent Carol Pallas said. “At the high school, visitors enter one door to a main corridor.”

While that entrance is manned by security during school hours, district officials saw an opportunity with the proposed capital project to create an even more secure entrance and eliminate the number of visitors with access to student hallways.

The central officesAfter considering several designs, the concept of creating one main entrance to the high school emerged as a viable option. This option would include moving the high school library to the current main office space and converting the library to a “one-stop-shop” for visitors. By adding a vestibule, a more secure entrance will be created. This will then open to the main office area, which will also house guidance, and the nurse’s office, three of the main places visitors go when entering the building. The school psychologist and social worker would also be located in this area. View architect’s renderings

“By having the main office, guidance, and the nurse’s office all centrally located at the building entrance, it will increase security not only by having an extra set of doors visitors must access, but also by reducing the number of visitors in our halls,” Pallas said.

In addition, the high school needed an area for flexible learning, so this space would also house what is being called a Learning Commons. The commons would be a multi-purpose space for instruction, small group learning, media connections, and intervention services for students. As it would be located next to the high school administrators, the area would be supervised without additional cost.

The media centerThe concept would be to make a more 21st century-focused space that is almost a combination of a traditional library and Starbucks, with the Sabre Café being right outside that would allow students to take full advantage of their Chromebooks while working.

High School Principal Imran Abbasi called the space “a huge step in the right direction” for the school’s effort to prepare students for college life and college learning. “It would be similar to how such spaces in college campuses are laid out and would allow our students to get the feel of a college environment.”

Residents will vote whether to authorize the district to spend up to $13,853,500 on a capital project, which would include the creation of the secure vestibule, Learning Commons, and office space renovation, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 in the Schalmont High School New Gym  Lobby, 1 Sabre Drive, Schenectady. [Learn more about the proposed capital project]