Ideas from three school community-engagement meetings held during the past week are expected to be incorporated into the new Lincoln Elementary School scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
Brent Foley, lead architect for Triad Architects, the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools' architect of record, said he spent two days at the current Lincoln Elementary, where he met with every class.
"What I always want to talk about in this process, and the kids illustrate this, is that no idea is too far-fetched," he said. "Don't feel embarrassed to ask questions. Don't feel like your voice isn't being heard."
He said he got a lot of fun and insightful ideas from the students.
"The kids were interested in having a student lounge," Foley said. "A young student wanted fewer fiction books and more nonfiction books in the library.
"What we hope to do if we're selected as the architect for the process, we'll come back and show you how these ideas have been designed or if it's someone else, they will have these ideas given to them and can show you how these ideas have been incorporated."
Foley said some ideas can't be incorporated because of constraints of budget or schedule.
He asked community members to sketch where they think the building, a play area and parking should be located.
Participants Tracy Larick and Staci Lyvers were thinking outside the box, suggesting the new school be moved out of the Gahanna Middle School South neighborhood and built where the district's administrative building, Gahanna City Hall and the police department are located, off South Hamilton Road and Rocky Fork Boulevard.
"We then moved city hall to Clark Hall and we moved Clark Hall to the extra space you'll have at the high school where (the current Lincoln Elementary is located)," Larick said.
Gahanna-Jefferson Superintendent Steve Barrett had to nix that idea, noting the tax issue approved May 8 designated the new school would be built on district-owned property off Helmbright Drive.
Lyvers said a second option she and Larick devised would be to move the current football field to where the softball fields are at Middle School South.
"You'd still keep the soccer and lacrosse field, so you'd have all that green space and all the sports stuff is all together," she said. "Where the current track is, is where the elementary school would go and you could have a playground and open space in front of it where that softball field is."
Lyvers said the current bus loop could be extended down by where the new playground would be by the elementary.
"So the middle school and elementary would share that same bus drop-off and pick-up," she said. "And then the parent drop-off and pick-up would be at the Dellfield (Way) side of the school campus."
Lyvers suggested making that one-way between 7 and 9 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m.
Another group suggested Middle School South and the new Lincoln Elementary be connected via a shared auditorium.
Barrett said the whole master-facility plan started out as a three-phase plan, and those providing feedback thought the high school renovation or replacement was too far off.
"It was adjusted to a two-phase plan," he said. "This is phase one to talk about tonight (Aug. 21), specifically to replace Lincoln Elementary."
Other items in the first phase are classroom, media center and student restroom renovations throughout the district's K-8 buildings, and community engagement and planning to create a workable solution to address needs at the high school.
"What we want to do is build the safest, most beautiful elementary school we can build," Barrett said. "We know that space is important to you. Your kids have played on that green space for a long time and we'd like to preserve some of that, if we can.
"We are going to build the new elementary school a little bigger than our other elementaries, because we're experiencing overcrowding in a number of our elementaries," he said.
He said the new school will house 750 students.
"We have a lot of work to do in phase one," Barrett said. "The biggest part of the work is replacing Lincoln Elementary."
Gahanna residents Lance and Alana Cramlet said their young daughter would attend the new school.
"I think having the opportunity to give input into something that will affect our daughter is huge," she said.