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Walls go up at Valley Crossing at a cost of $2.3M

Valley Crossing Elementary will be getting $2.3 million of improvements, including jagged-wall corridors through its three neighborhoods. Each classroom will have a wall and a door, as well as a permanent wall for its SMART board, but the classrooms will still have partitions that can be moved for collaborative time between classes.

Assistant superintendent Julie Nielsen said the architects' design of the remodel is a compromise that has parents and teachers in good spirits.

Valley Crossing Elementary, opened as a three-district collaborative school in 1996 and purchased in 2015 for $21.5 million by District 833, has 700-some students enrolled for the 2017-18 school year, with room for 810, Nielsen said.

The school looks different, with tables of various heights, stools instead of chairs, and double-sided bookcases with lots of books in every room, among other things.

Teachers employ a responsive classroom model that district leaders said is an example of a culture to be replicated throughout all South Washington County Schools.

The work spaces used by teachers have been left unaltered in the remodel designs, Nielsen said, but district officials are considering creating leveled library areas using some of the space in the future.

Designs were approved by the District 833 School Board on Thursday, after months of contentious debate among parents and teachers.

"I think you brought together everybody's opinions," School Board chairman Ron Kath said, complimenting Nielsen.

Valley Crossing is a great learning environment, Kath added.

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