Aug 24, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff WriterMembers of the Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees and district staff who toured Riverton facilities this week were impressed by the changes that have been made to local school and office buildings.
"Wow," said board member Dean Peranteaux as he entered one of the new third-grade classrooms at Rendezvous Elementary School. "This turned out well."
The school on Fourth Street West in Riverton, which previously housed local fourth- and fifth-graders, was remodeled this summer to accommodate more than 850 third-graders. Superintendent Terry Snyder said the move should help the District more closely comply with the state's 16:1 student-teacher ratio requirement. Riverton's student-teacher ratio currently sits at about 20:1.
Rendezvous principal Mary Jo Chouinard said the goal when designing the school's new layout was to keep the grade units in clusters. Nine rooms in the hallway closest to Main Street are reserved for fourth-graders, she explained, with eight fifth-grade classrooms in the core of the building and around the corner from the school's 10 third-grade classrooms.
Board members complimented operations and maintenance supervisor Larry Hartwell for his work with the rooms, which are equipped with new walls, carpets and electronics. They also commended his use of space for storage and specialized classrooms, particularly when they entered the school's old locker and shower rooms.
"It's amazing what they've done," said Ashgrove Elementary School principal Alleta Baltes as she peered into what used to be an open shower.
The area now contains three rows of book shelves that only leave enough room to squeeze through the door and weave through the aisles. Across the hallway, pink lockers have been removed to make space for offices for math facilitators and one classroom for specialized lessons.
"It doesn't look at all (like it did)," Baltes said.
Behind the building, two structures that were previously used for storage have been converted into computer labs, and the school's old music room will be used as a fourth-grade learning resource area.
"It's very spacious," Board member Lynette Jeffres said, craning her neck to look at the tall ceilings in the old music space.
The group also took a bus to Riverton High School, where they tested Wolverine Field's new stadium seats and took a look at changes that were made to the school and career center buildings in an effort to improve security.
"This was a real safety concern," Snyder said of RHS. "This was not a secure building."
Now, visitors to the school and career center will have no choice but to check in with front office staff before entering either building. In addition, doors that do not enter into a secure office space will be locked when classes are in session, and teachers will be equipped with specialized keys that can be disabled if lost. Similar plans are in the works for Riverton's other school buildings.
At RHS, a large, gas-fired kiln that had been installed inside will be moved to a rear courtyard, and student resource officers will be posted in a central location where they can monitor student activity more closely.
"It's been a great summer," Snyder said, adding that all of the work was done without going over budget.
District officials said they will spend about $350,000 of the $400,000 budgeted this summer for major maintenance work.
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