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Board given a glimpse of potential new school: Manuel ‘not optimistic’ that SCS will agree to terms for ‘3Gs’ by Friday

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Members of the Germantown Board of Education were recently treated to a sneak peak of the city’s potential future elementary school.

During Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting, Superintendent Jason Manuel introduced the board and a handful of attendees to two members of local architectural firm A2H in an effort to offer a glimpse into “what could be.”

A2H, a Lakeland-based design and consulting firm of engineers, architects, planners, landscape architects and surveyors, was selected last spring to design plans for both an expansion of Riverdale Elementary School and the proposed new elementary campus off of Forest Hill-Irene Road.

Chris Herring and Jeff Eakes began the presentation by noting that A2H is already two months into the design process for the new school. They expect construction documents to be complete by December.

The large pond and 300-year-old oak tree on the 35-acre site will not only be preserved but used as features of emphasis, according to Herring, who said the campus will “blend into” the existing environment.

Herring noted that the pickup loop for vehicles would be designed like the one at Houston Middle School.

“It’s not going to be like Dogwood,” he said, “where traffic is backing up in the streets. This is a big loop for car traffic.”

Eakes said the proposed building, which would serve kindergarten through fifth grade, has a “compact plan” that is “far off” of Forest Hill-Irene.

The classroom portion of the campus has been designed as two stories with “double loaded corridors,” or classrooms on both sides of the hallways.

Herring said the school, slated to be more than 100,000 square feet, has been arranged in a “village plan” to give it a different identity than the Shelby County Schools.

“Instead of looking like one giant building,” he noted, “it has a feeling of several smaller buildings connected together with corridors.”

The design features an arts and science pavilion that would be connected to the school with a corridor of glass walls, similar to those at Riverdale.

There are soccer fields, a physical education building with retractable bleachers, a cafeteria, a “large staging area” for theater productions and an administrative building.

A courtyard space is planned as a learning garden or an “extension of science space.”

The entry vestibule is similar to the one at Farmington Elementary and the kindergarten through third grade classrooms are designed to accommodate a 18-to-1 student-teacher ratio.

There are three common activity spaces and centrally located IT and guidance offices.

In related news:

• When asked about the upcoming deadline for Shelby County Schools to agree to the terms for the city to acquire the “3Gs,” Manuel said he was “not optimistic” that the school board will “receive a response by June 23.”

“I do think that this board is going to have to discuss the next steps at that point,” he said.

Manuel noted that he plans to send a follow-up email to SCS officials on Thursday but added that he recently received emails from SCS Board Members Billy Orgel and Chris Caldwell stating that “they weren’t sure of they could get (the matter) on their next agenda.”

In a June 12 email to SCS officials, Manuel set a June 23 deadline for the county system to accept the city’s $25-million offer for the namesake schools.

He noted Monday night that the city may have to “give them the opportunity to discuss” the offer.