Schultz Elementary School neighbors came out last week to see the latest drawings and give their nod of approval for construction set to begin next year at the school.

Schultz Elementary School neighbors came out last week to see the latest drawings and give their nod of approval for construction set to begin next year at the school.

Larry Davis, former district facilities and transportation director and current project manager, said everything is running smoothly and details are being finalized for the Schultz renovation and classroom addition project.

Since the passage of a bond issue in May, the district has begun renovation and construction projects in order to accommodate increasing enrollment.

The preliminary plan for renovations at Schultz has been approved by the board, and area residents and parents were invited to the school Tuesday, Nov. 12, to view them.

"The neighborhood didn't show up in abundance, which is a good sign," Davis said. "Those who came didn't ask any tough questions; they mainly wanted to see the drawings."

The board still has to go through two revisions of the plan before giving its final approval. Once board members give their final nod, they will begin to move into the bidding process.

That process is expected to begin in March. Construction is scheduled to start in summer 2014 and end in summer 2015.

Four new kindergarten classrooms and eight new classrooms for fourth and fifth grades will be built.

Fifth-grade students currently attend Willis Intermediate School, but once all elementary school renovations are completed, all fourth-graders will remain at their respective elementary schools to complete fifth grade.

Because Willis will be used as an administrative building, all the classroom furniture will be repurposed for the students moving into the new classrooms.

"At Willis, there are tables for fifth-grade students instead of individual desks. We will put those into Schultz," Davis said. "We won't have to spend taxpayers' money to purchase new furniture."

The sixth-grade furniture from Willis also will be repurposed for use at Dempsey Middle School when sixth-graders begin to attend classes there.

Davis said staff and other members of the community have offered input on what they would like to see in the classrooms. However, he said many of the suggestions won't be possible within the budget.

"It's kind of like when you remodel your home and you think you want to get new furniture to go with the new flooring," he said. "However, if it's not essential to get new things, we can't afford to do that."

The cafeteria and kitchen at Schultz will be expanded and sinks will be added in some classrooms to accommodate the fifth-grade science curriculum.

The flow of traffic will be redirected by expanding Willow Run to connect to Applegate Lane.

"Since our schools are neighborhood schools, drop-off and pick-up for students will always mean lots of traffic," Davis said.

He said a great deal of consideration is being given to safety issues to make sure all the renovations will result in safer schools.

"We don't want the schools to look like a locked-up institution, but we are doing everything we can to make the schools as safe as possible," he said.

Davis said safety features will be added to the entrance and reception areas and staff will be trained in safety procedures.

"We can never do enough to ensure safety, but we will never stop continuing to make the schools safe," he said.

The district is in the early stages of preparing for work at Dempsey, with plans presented to Delaware City Council for approval.

Davis said as the district moves through the process, he's noticed a positive outlook from staff and community members toward the projects.

"The staff is very pleased with the projects and is grateful to the community for voting and supporting the bond issue," he said. "The elementary school teachers are excited for the opportunity to teach fifth-grade students."