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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 1 year ago

OCPS unveils new Maxey plans

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Sixty percent of the design for the long-awaited new Maxey Elementary School was revealed and discussed during a community meeting Jan. 23.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

WINTER GARDEN – During a community meeting held Jan. 23, Orange County Public Schools unveiled 60% of the design plans for the new Maxey Elementary School.

The site for the new two-story school — located at 602 E. Story Road, at the intersection of Story Road and Ninth Street — will replace the 50-year-old, 38,000-square-foot Maxey Elementary School at 1100 E. Maple St. 

The new 78,000-square-foot building will be able to house 650 students, but OCPS also has added an area for classroom trailers to accommodate potential future growth.

The new Maxey campus will include a canopied entryway that leads directly into the administrative center — a deliberate design to ensure there will be only one secure access point into the building.  

Tyrone Smith, an OCPS representative, shared the tentative floor plans for the first and second floors of the building and the overall layout for the school grounds.

On the first floor, there will be a media center, two computer labs, classrooms for students in the lower grades and kindergarten, art and music rooms, a kitchen/serving area, restrooms and a multi-purpose cafeteria area. On the second floor, OCPS plans to add classrooms for students in intermediate grades, two restroom areas, three stairwells and additional administrative space.

A parking lot with 131 spaces, which will be situated on the southern edge of the school, will double as the queue line for parent drop-off and pick-up. It’s estimated the queue line will be able to hold 116 cars, and OCPS expects it will prevent traffic from backing up onto Ninth Street.

OCPS also will be adding a 45,000-square-foot open athletic field, with basketball courts, a common-use area and a covered play area. A bus loop will be included on the northern edge that enters and exits from Story Road.

After a short video presentation, members of the school project’s construction management and architectural team fielded questions from attendees.

The main concerns parents and school volunteers were related to kids’ safety and comfort. 

A specific concern brought up by current Maxey Elementary School Principal Jeraldine Sims regarded the computer lab’s proximity to the kindergarten area and primary-school classrooms. Because many students in the higher grades often use computers for tests, Sims asked whether the noise would be an issue for students trying to concentrate. She proposed placing a skills/computer lab upstairs as well.

However, OCPS said it had considered the option but decided against it because certain school building codes require that areas the younger students use be kept on the first floor.

Charlotte Donaldson, a school volunteer from the St. Luke’s Methodist Church, asked about fencing, while a second church volunteer, Susan Norris Carter, inquired about a possible pedestrian bridge on Story Road or Ninth Street for students who walk to school. 

OCPS representatives informed the entire school property would be enclosed by a fence — except for the front, to keep it visually appealing. However, it will not be by adding a pedestrian bridge.

Instead, OCPS plans to coordinate with the Winter Garden Police Department to find a safe walking path with cross guards to maintain safety. OCPS said it also considering a 45- to 60-second all-red light signal where all the traffic light signals turn red to allow pedestrians to pass. 

There will be a covered play area, however, neither of the two playgrounds on the school campus will have a roof. This concerned many parents who preferred covered playgrounds to protect kids from sun exposure. 

School Board member Christine Moore interjected in the ensuing conversation, informing attendees that the cost of a second sun shade, which is typically $20,000 to $25,000, had not been included in the budget. She suggested fundraising or applying for a community grant to purchase shade structures for the tot lots.

The new Maxey Elementary School is on track to open by August 2018.

Editor's Note: This article previously stated the new Maxey Elementary School would have a covered playground. However, the school will have a covered play area. For reference, a play area is used for P.E classes and typically does not include any playground apparatus. This article has since been modified to ensure accuracy.

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Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].

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