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Designer Presents Early Template for New Angier School

Designers laid out the number of classrooms, the size of the gym and other initial details about the new Angier Elementary School.

Although the new Angier Elementary is another few years away from completion, Newton school officials are starting to get a sense as to what the rebuilt school will look like. 

Representatives from DiNisco Design Partnership, the Angier project designers, and Joslin Lesser & Associates, the Angier project manager, presented information Monday night on the initial classroom plan for the new school.

"This is the building block...the starting point for every school," said Donna DiNisco, principal for DiNisco Design.

In her presentation during Monday night's School Committee meeting, DiNisco said the initial plans outline 22 classrooms for kindergarten to fifth grade. This includes four kindergarten classrooms and 18 classrooms for grades 1-5, which will accommodate a student population of 465.

To review the template, or the Angier Educational Program Summary, click the .pdf to the right.

The plan also includes 19 special education spaces that vary in size to allow for small group instruction as well as larger, more flexible space. This is eight classrooms above what is required under state guidelines from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). 

The district is currently partnering with the MSBA to rebuild the 90-year-old school. Throughout the partnership, the MSBA provides guidelines for the new school as well as specific steps the district needs to take in the rebuilding process.

The special education component is where the design firm spent the most time, DiNisco said, as the Newton elementary school principals who spoke with the firm emphasized the need for classroom flexibility and small-group instruction. 

"We've developed [the education program] so it meets Newton's needs," DiNisco said.

The design firm has not only spent time speaking with Angier Principal Loreta Lamberti, but with the other 14 Newton elementary school principals as well. Department heads and district administrators were also brought in to offer feedback.

The feedback allowed the design firm to hear more about the different programs and space needs in the district, DiNisco said, which will help build a plan that could work as a template for multiple elementary schools in the city.

"A school is not a building, it's an institution, and an institution is much broader than the facility it inhabits," said David Krawitz, a senior project manager at Joslin Lesser & Associates. "Our goal is to figure out how Newton delivers education to its elementary school students."

In addition to the classroom total, the school plan includes an art classroom and art storage/kiln room, a music classroom and two music practice/ensemble rooms, a 6,000-square-foot gymnasium, a 2,770-square-foot media center (library), and a 6,420-square-foot "cafetorium" (cafeteria and auditorium).

The school template also includes plans for a medical office, custodial and maintenance spaces as well as 10 administrative spaces. 

At roughly 75,000 square feet, the total gross square footage of the school template is 1,400 or 1,500 square feet larger than the specifications outlined by the MSBA. However, DiNisco said she is "confident" the school will meet MSBA guidelines, as there will be some more "push and pull" as the design develops. 

The next steps, officials said, will be to discuss outside spaces such as parking, drop-off areas and green space.

"There's still a lot of work to be done," Krawitz said. 

According to the Angier project schedule, construction of the new school is set to start in summer/fall of 2014, at which point Angier students will head to the Carr School (Newton Cultural Center) for two years until the school is finished. 

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