By Aziza Jackson
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Allentown School District (ASD) officials recently broke ground on a new elementary school and community building designed by locally based architectural firm Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects.
Serving most of the city of Allentown, ASD is the fourth-largest school district in Pennsylvania, with 16,628 students spread across three high schools, four middle schools and 15 elementary schools according to 2016-2017 enrollment numbers in ASD’s District Data Snapshot.
This project consists of a new 114,000-square-foot elementary school that will house approximately 875 students from kindergarten through fifth grade, and staff from Cleveland and McKinley elementary schools. The south entrance to the school fronts West Gordon Street and accommodates a dedicated bus drop-off and pick-up zone for eight buses. The north entrance accommodates a dedicated parent drop-off for 20 cars surrounding a parking area built for 79 vehicles. Both entrances access a common lobby that connects the school’s two distinct components: a four-story academic wing and a two-story core facility containing the multi-purpose room, stage, kitchen and music room on the main floor, with the library and art room above.
A two-story 10,000-square-foot community service building is attached to the western end of the academic wing and will house pre-K classrooms, an adult education meeting room, food pantry and potential health services space.
The project’s educational goals align with ASD’s strategic framework and 21st century learning initiatives. Equity of access, safety, personalized learning, collaboration, and technology integration are core values expressed in the school’s design. With a variety of spaces scaled for differently sized small and large group instruction, the building becomes a flexible teaching tool encouraging learning outside the classroom, supporting current styles and future changes in education delivery. Site amenities include a playground that will be available for community use.
WFMZ reports that the district hopes to open doors to the new school in June 2020 that will welcome extra students overcrowded at Ramos and Central elementary schools, and serve as a public space for community gatherings.
“That community building will be able to provide a food bank, it will also provide a health services aspect and then the second floor of the community house will hold a preschool,” said Thomas Smith, director of facility services for Allentown School District, to WFMZ.
A report from WFMZ contributed to this story.