$28 Million Project Largest Chunk of District's Approved Referendum

FWCS Shows Snider Renovation Plans

By Rachel Martin
By Eric Dutkiewicz

April 23, 2013 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 9:24 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – Fort Wayne Community Schools held its first of a series of meetings showing off the renovation plans for Snider High School set to begin this summer.

The renovations to Snider are part of the first phase of the referendum passed by voters last May. Darren Hess, FWCS facilities director, says the $28 million Snider project will include a new bus lane along the current service drive and storm water draining that will retain more water towards Vance Avenue.

The renovations are scheduled to last through December of 2015. As a result, the district will set up 20 modular school buildings on the football practice field between Bowser Field and the freestanding football locker room.

Some 200 to 300 students will fill the modulars at a time, with specific sections of classrooms and departments rotating in and out of the modulars as construction is completed.

“It’s necessary, it’s absolutely necessary. It needs to be done," Snider parent Maria Pittenger says after the meeting. "I think they’re doing what tax payers were ready to support, and I don’t think they’re trying to do anything that’s not necessary.”

The modular classrooms, also called "pods", are 900 sq. ft. in contrast to the current classroom size of 800 sq. ft. Each pod includes heating and air conditioning, and restrooms, and will require students to walk through a tunnel to get to them.

"It's fully secured with lockable doors," Hess says of the modulars. "The students will never exit outside into the elements. They'll always be in a covered walk way from the main building."

Hess says construction workers will stay separate from the student body during school hours, but will follow certain code of conduct guidelines for language and attire while working on the sight.

“They will have all of their safety and security measures that we have in our main building now, so that will help support our staff and also our students. Everything that they have inside the building right now they essentially will have out in the modular classroom pods.”

Parent Sarah Schwaiger says after attending Tuesday night’s meeting, she feels more comfortable about the proposed plans.

“Before tonight, I was concerned about the walkways," Schwaiger says. "Whether they were going to be fully enclosed and what the safety factors were. But they said they will be fully enclosed and they’re going to have cameras, and they’ll have an administrator there at all times, so really I don’t think that’s going to be a factor.”

Pittenger agrees. "Of course as a parent you have some concerns, but I really think they're addressing them in every way possible and I feel comfortable with it."

Snider principal Deborah Watson says time alotted for passing periods between classes will not change; but students participating in summer activities will experiment with walking patterns and travel time to indicate if changes are necessary.

Overall, Pittenger says she’s happy with the progress so far and believes it will benefit the students in the long run. “It will instill more pride [in the students] when they can feel that their environment is more up to code.”

While the Snider football practice fields are in use, the Panthers will practice at Lane Middle School. District officials say they see no problem with a large number of students crossing Reed Road at once.

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