BEATRICE – The drawings and plans for the new prekindergarten to fifth grade facility in Beatrice were reviewed by the Beatrice Board of Education, Monday night. The two-level school will be built on land the district owns, off Lincoln Street in east Beatrice….with bonds for the facility paid through use of the district’s building fund levy.

BCDM Architect Matthew Erion reviewed the plans and timeline for the project, which will replace four older elementary buildings in the community. It will be located on the north 30 acres of the 90-acre site.  "We are planning on having the main circulation off of 33rd. We will have a secondary entrance, the bus entrance off of that north on Lincoln...and then we will have a separate preschool entrance kind of to the northeast of there, to create a separation between three different types of vehicular traffic there."

Erion said the project focuses on zones for students to have separate areas for grade levels…greenspace buffers around the school where expansion would be possible…and strong security. Although there would be three entrance points, the main entry would be along the south side of the school with a secure vestibule. That would be the only public access point during the school day.

"All of the students and the public would have the same experience as they walk through the building. But, most importantly, the admin area has been located in a very centralized location to see anybody who is going to be walking up...and from a security standpoint, it gives them the biggest range of visibility for any visitors coming in. When we talked about proximity in that two-story scenario, what you see is a diagram of all the vertical circulation. We have quite a few areas that allow for that vertical access, so students don't have to go very far to access any one of the programs in the facility."

Image: BCDM Architects

The facility would be zoned into semi-public areas of the commons and gym ….but private areas for classroom space. It would include a FEMA storm shelter on the east side of the building with a capacity of 1,300 students…and a gym on the north side. Art, band and music spaces would be toward the west side of the structure.  The ten classroom preschool would be on the east side, with separate recess access points. The northwest of the building would be kindergarten and first grade wings, along with special education. On the upper level, the northwest would include second and third grades and fourth and fifth grades nearby. BCDM Architect Jamie Wietfeld says the school makes use of three design factors.

"It was a goal to have a collaborative education environment, where there's equity for all students and all staff...and that it is a child-focused environment. These are all concepts that we continue to come back to as we work through the plan and the design of the building."

The facility would include an innovation area on each level…which includes the library and access to computer and maker-space technology. "It's kind of the center of the building....its the media's a technology area....and open kind of concept where staff can bring students into these areas and teach them in different environments."

Erion says a lot of effort has been put into building efficiency to make it the project cost-effective.  Grading of the site is expected to begin in the next couple of months. Erion says most of the construction would take place starting next spring…with a planned opening of the facility in the fall of 2024.

Superintendent Jason Alexander says the plans are being shared with teachers this week and he says a lot of details remain to be settled.