New Woodburn Community School Initiative

GOOD PLACE, GOOD PLAN

For a combined Easton/Woodburn elementary school on Woodburn schoolgrounds, slightly expanded

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The concept for a combined Easton-Woodburn Community School in Woodburn is fundamentally green and sustainable with financial and environmental, social and educational advantages.

see also many pages of supporting documents at The Case for the Woodburn Site

ADVANTAGES OF THE WOODBURN PLAN

Economic Advantages

    • The Woodburn property is already owned by the school district; no multimillion dollar land acquisition needed, a responsible use of taxpayers’ money
    • The land is not undermined, unlike the Mileground site; no mine-fill expense at Woodburn
    • Other financial benefits include pre-existing municipal overflow parking and minimal school drive construction costs
    • The site allows for responsible and gradual growth but prohibits hasty expansion and limits future expensive capital projects
    • The facility would be energy efficient for reduced operating costs
    • Utility infrastructure is in place
    • Neighborhood schools attract and retain residents in keeping with the city’s revitalization and stabilization efforts
    • The site presents a variety of pathways to LEED certification
    • Engaged community members are willing to volunteer expertise and labor
    • Potential exists for national visibility of a highly creative green and sustainable project

Environmental Advantages

    • Reuse of a current site as opposed to the development of farm land
    • Opportunity to salvage and reuse materials
    • Smaller building footprint
    • Opportunities for natural storm water management
    • Reduced lighting energy use due to extensive natural daylighting
    • Water efficient landscaping and fixtures throughout
    • Reduced dependence on automobile usage (a key LEED criteria)
    • Pedestrian access

Social and Educational Advantages

    • The school is the anchor of a long-term residential community
    • Small neighborhood schools improve educational outcomes, offer a vital support network for students, and enable greater parental involvement
    • The location is more conducive to after-hours use than the Mileground site
    • Children feel connected to the school; it is integrated into community
    • Neighborhood schools help strengthen existing communities rather than promoting sprawl. In a letter to the Mon County Board of Education, Mayor Bill Byrne expressed his support for these schools, which “encourage re-development, neighborhood stabilization, and positive community impacts.”
    • The site is quiet, accommodating, well-sized for 450 students
    • The concept flows with the landscape rather than dominating it
    • The well-integrated site is uniquely situated between downtown and the surrounds
    • The site is linked by sidewalks to the outside classrooms of Deckers Creek Trail, Whitmore Park, and Marilla Park
    • It will reduce lifecycle costs (overall costs associated with the project during its lifetime) by its location in a downtown neighborhood—a core concept of the Council for Educational Facility Planners International.

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POSSIBLE CONCERNS

How difficult would it be to drop my child off at Woodburn?

Some Easton and Cheat Lake area parents are reasonably concerned about traveling by car to the Woodburn school site to pick-up or drop-off their children, but the Woodburn school grounds can be quickly reached by a short route. Rather than sit in traffic, follow the simple “Mileground Bypass.” From 119 at the airport, take Hartman Run Road (857) to Richwood Avenue, along which the school is located. This little loop around the Mileground chops minutes off the drive time when the Mileground is congested, or under construction, or both.

Will there be a lot of car and bus congestion?

Currently, cars line up on Fortney Street for pick-up, but the new design provides a sizeable pullout area for cars, separate from the area for buses.

Where will the Woodburn school children be during construction?

Phased construction of the new school on the grounds and slope below the school will allow the old school to remain open until the new school is completed.

Other Concerns?

See the information and contacts at newwoodburncommunityschool.org/

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ACCESSIBLE, ACCOMMODATING, AND SIZEABLE

Woodburn schoolgrounds sits on two public bus routes and can be reached by car and school bus from all directions (map):

1.  Hartman Run Road (which is 857) / Richwood Avenue East (from Easton & Cheat Lake area)

2.  Willey Street / Richwood Avenue West (from downtown Morgantown)

3.  Mileground road (US 119) / Charles Avenue (from Mileground & 705 area)

4.  Route 7 / Mineral Avenue / Richwood Avenue East (from Sabraton, South Park & Green Bag road area)

A combined Easton/Woodburn school on Woodburn schoolgrounds is the only way to keep the new school even relatively small: around 400 students, or 450.

Siting the school on the Mileground would allow it to be readily expanded to 500, 600, 800 and more students. The school district has been rapidly expanding school after school (whether it consolidates or not). In the past 5 years, elementary student body size has increased on average 55 percent in Mon County. Only the Woodburn site for the new school can discourage such rash expansion that the school district continues to push for.

When Easton and Woodburn are combined that will make it an average 70 percent increase in student body size in 7 years, as the number of elementary schools will have dropped from 15 to 10. Currently there are 11 schools. See the facts and the trends, if you haven’t already: Elementary School Size in Monongalia County, 2005-2012.

To keep the new school reasonably sized, we do best to site at Woodburn. The innovative design allows for a unique, exciting, and great school and school grounds, slightly expanded from the existing school grounds by the adjacent land of willing sellers only.

Siting the school at the Mileground, apart from the financial waste and many other drawbacks is an invitation to the school district to grow that school to the size of Cheat Lake Elementary and North Elementary or even larger. The accommodating Woodburn site is surrounded by houses and two communities, thankfully, that will strongly discourage the school district from its penchant for expansion and its ability to do so over the objections of parents.

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How To Build a Green School

The concept for a new Woodburn community school was developed according to the guidelines found in the West Virginia Series 172 Handbook on Facilities Planning, commonly referred to as Policy 6200.   This 256-page document spells out both the guidelines and requirements for all West Virginia school facilities.  It is a public document found on the West Virginia State Department of Education website.  It is used by all design firms when creating what is called the ‘program’ for a school.  The program indicates how the facility will be used–what physical space needs must be met in the design.

Using Policy 6200, we arrived at a total square footage for a 450-student elementary school building of roughly 52,000 square feet.  The 450-student number comes from our Monongalia County Board of Education.   As required by Policy 6200, Pre-K, K, 1 and administration are located on what would be considered the ground floor by the WV State Fire Marshall, the authority having jurisdiction over all new educational facilities in West Virginia.  The total school program also includes exterior spaces such as parking, bus/ parent drop off areas and recreation areas and our concept has taken all of these into consideration and complies with the necessary exterior space requirements and guidelines.

Our concept sits on the current 4 acres owned by the Monongalia County Board of Education.  Policy 6200 recommends 7 acres for a school of this size, but does allow for smaller sites under Section 203.4, stating, “When the nature of the school is urban, the school site shall also be urban in scale.”  In order to satisfy the requirements for a waiver from the typical site acreage, a project must indicate that it can meet all program requirements on the smaller site.  Our concept does that nicely.  According to Dr. Mark Manchin of the WV School Building Authority, several school projects in West Virginia have received site acreage waivers.

Our concept calls for the potential acquisition of two parcels from sellers who have indicated their willingness to sell at appraised value should the Board of Education wish to purchase their land for a new school on the Woodburn site.

The LEED Rating System has been called into play and our concept would focus on several key components of this system:  site reuse, community connectivity, walkability, alternative transportation options nearby, light pollution reduction, maximizing open space, reduction in heat island, natural storm water management (quality and quantity), avoidance of sensitive sites (such as farmland, park land, flood plains, endangered species habitat), materials reuse, water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor air quality.  While no concept can say it will definitely meet final LEED Certification, our concept has great potential to obtain the LEED Silver threshold in a variety of ways.

Our concept is not intended to be a final design, but to merely show how the required program could be met on a site that is already owned by the Board of Education.  A site that is also not undermined and comprises the core of a long-standing Morgantown neighborhood.

OTHER IDEAS:

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