Construction underway for new elementary prototype
PALMER -- A groundbreaking celebration takes place June 10, at noon, for a dynamic new
prototype for elementary schools in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The school may also be the
first LEED certified school built in the state. South Palmer Elementary is expected to be complete
by July 2009.
The 52,306 square-foot building will have a capacity of 470 students. Construction costs are $14
million. The overall project is $17 million, including furniture and computers. A goal of the
design committee was to create the school as both a learning center and a community center.
Features of the new school incorporate emerging national trends in elementary education
including an integrated interactive learning environment, as well as:
A dynamic central Multipurpose Room, the focus of the school community, will be used for a variety of functions including lunch, small assemblies, after school events and special projects.
Adjacent classrooms are connected by doors to foster teacher communication and collaboration.
Each class is a flexible environment. Instructional focus is a multimedia interactive learning center with projector and computers. The east wall will not receive any direct sunlight, making it ideal for electronic displays. Windows connect the classroom to breakout areas, where responsible students can work independently while being supervised visually by the teacher.
The main entry with dramatic curved wall, natural light, and informal seating welcomes students, staff and visitors while allowing administrative staff to easily control access to student areas.
Open circulation paths with integrated study/collaboration spaces are easily supervised with minimal staffing.
Experiential playground features farm-themed elements, hard surface play and multipurpose recreational fields.
This school will have many superior features to the old elementary school prototype design including in-slab heat of the kindergarten classrooms and gymnasium.
After school, the neighborhood uses its own entrance to the gym and stage for athletic and other events.
The South Palmer Elementary has been designed to reduce energy use through implementation
of sustainable building practices. It will be the Borough’s first elementary school seeking
national certification as a green building through the LEED program sponsored by the US Green
Voters approved bonds in May 2006. The state will reimburse the Borough 60 percent of
construction costs. Developer Rex Turner donated the 14.53 acre site and the cost of other
improvements. A site selection committee chose the site last year. McCool Carlson Green-
Architects designed the school and Collins Construction will build it.
For more information, call Borough Project Manager Bob Bechtold at 746-7417 or Borough
Public Affairs, Patty Sullivan at 745-9577 or School District PIO Catherine Esary at 746-9251.