Classes under way at Liberty Ridge Site 2 expansionLiberty Ridge Elementary's new “Site 2” kindergarten building officially opened on Thursday, Sept. 6.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Last week brought a new school year to Liberty Ridge Elementary – as well as a new building.
The school’s new “Site 2” kindergarten building officially opened on Thursday, Sept. 6.
“It’s exciting,” said Liberty Ridge Principal Mike Moore. “That’s the best word to describe it.”
District 833 approved the second Liberty Ridge building last winter because the school was on track to outgrow its current building.
The district purchased a leased space near the school, which the school had previously been using for overflow kindergarten classes, and added 12,500 square feet for $4.5 million.
The district financed two-thirds of the project with a lease levy with the remainder paid for with approximately $1 million left from the 2006 construction bond issue and $100,000 a year from the annual $6 million the district gets for operating and repairing buildings and grounds.
Earlier this summer, the Site 2 construction suffered a setback when 20 60-foot trusses collapsed while workers were installing them. One worker received minor injuries in the collapse.
The only academic impact of the accident was that teachers were delayed by a few days in getting their classrooms ready.
“The big thing was working towards Aug. 1,” Moore said. “There’s no point to worrying about things in June or July.”
The new building includes five classrooms, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, an all-purpose room and its own playground.
Site 2 also has its own health assistants and school nurse.
“The district did a wonderful job creating an equal building with equal services,” Moore said. “It’s not a lesser – whatever you get up there you get down here.”
Transitioning between sites
Students are bussed to the main building in the morning, where they then get on another bus that takes them to Site 2.
At the end of the day students take a bus back to the main building where they catch another bus to take them home.
Liberty Ridge parent Gina Greenwald, who has children at both sites, said she was initially hesitant about having her kindergartener in a completely separate building because she wanted all three of her children to be able to be in the same school.
“Initially when they were going to build Site 2 I was hesitant.” She said. “But, now I’ m really impressed.”
Moore said he has heard similar comments from parents regarding wanting siblings to be in the same building, but in reality students would see each other very little.
“The time where they spend the most time together is riding the bus, walking to school,” he said, “and that stuff is still happening.”
Liberty Ridge parent Christine Wilken, who also has children at both sites, said she doesn’t see it being an issue at all.
“They’ll still walk to school together,” she said. “Plus, they’ll be in the main building for the next five years after that.”
A kindergarten center
Kindergarten teacher Julie Johnson said she is pleased with the outcome of Site 2 and is optimistic about its success.
Specifically, Johnson said she likes having a “kindergarten center” where students can begin the transition to school.
“Having a little kindergarten center prepares them for the big building,” she said. “It’ll be a pretty positive experience getting to know each other before moving up to the big building.”
Greenwald and Wilken both said they are excited about having a “kindergarten center” to help their children transition.
“I think it’s going to be a good transition to have kindergarteners in their own space,” Greenwald said.
Wilken said her son is excited about having his own building.
“This is going to make the transition really smooth since they won’t have to walk down the hall with kids that are twice their size and they’re going to know their building really well,” she said.
Moore said he is excited about the new school year.
“The building looks great so I’m very happy,” he said. “It’s one thing to see it on a piece of paper, but it’s another to actually start being in here and teaching in here.
“I’m just excited to get into the year.”