FORT WAYNE – Just in time.

After starting construction last year on the $10 million project to expand and renovate Lafayette Meadows Elementary School, it is finally complete.

At the Southwest Allen County School Board meeting Aug. 8, Jay Wilhelm of Hagerman Construction presented a video showing the completed school.

Approximately 12 classrooms were added, the gymnasium was updated, the cafeteria was expanded, the front office was restructured, the nurse’s station was upgraded, landscaping was added and more.

Wilhelm said teachers began moving into their classrooms early last week.

“With that, Lafayette Meadows is complete, occupied and ready for school,” Wilhelm said.

The Board of Health inspected the school Aug. 5, the teacher’s first day of school was Aug. 9 and the students’ first day is Aug. 13.

Meagan Milne, president of the board of school trustees, was happy with the result of the months of hard work.

“I love it,” Milne said. “Thank you.”

The district also conducted a media tour of the building last week. After the 12-classroom expansion, fourth- and fifth-grade classes now have garage doors that open into an interior corridor. When students are using the corridor or collaborating with another class, the doors can be open. When quiet time is required, the opaque doors can be closed.

New tables in the classrooms are modular and can be configured in many different ways. Students’ chairs are designed so they wiggle, just a little — maybe absorbing a little of that excess energy that kids accumulate after sitting for a while.

A close look at some sections of wall in the halls of the new wing reveal they aren’t actually walls at all, but expansive white boards that can be written on with markers, and then erased.

On those days when being inside is too confining, a new usable, educationally based courtyard is accessible from the new wing. “We will have fourth- and fifth-graders in charge of keeping it weeded and watered and trash picked up,” said Lafayette Meadows Principal Jenny Fedele.

The expansion also includes a new, 5,000-square-foot auxiliary gym so two physical education classes can be going at once. The cafeteria has been expanded, and the carpet was replaced by hard-surface floors.

The playground has been relocated and the front office has been reconfigured and upgraded.

Kindergarten classroom space now encompasses 3,500 square feet.

Changes also include a new parking lot and new traffic pattern with improved pick-up and drop-off lanes.

The school enrollment is close to 700 students, making it the second-largest elementary school in the Southwest Allen County Schools district.

Also last week, the School Board:

• Heard from Superintendent Philip Downs that Homestead’s orchestra program received an invitation to perform at the 2020 Indiana Music Educators Association Conference in January.

• Heard that Homestead High School teacher and SACS 2019 Teacher of the Year Marius Sagnon has made it to the top 30 for the 2020 Indiana Teacher of the Year Award. The next round of cuts will only have 10 teachers.

Sagnon was born in Burkina Faso (Africa). While attending college at the University of Ouagadougou, he volunteered teaching uneducated adults, eventually becoming a teacher. He moved to the U.S. in 2003. He teaches French at Homestead High School. Sagnon is also a published author

• Approved an increase to ticket prices for middle school sporting events. The increase is as follows: from $3 to $4 for single-game admission with a cap of $8 for a family and 10-use punch card prices from $25 to $35.

• Approved a contract with Crosswinds,Inc. to provide counseling services to the students. Students at the elementary school will have counseling services available once a week for two hours, and students at the middle and high schools can take advantage of those services on a referral basis by the school. The cost of this three-year program is $1,500 a month and will be funded through Department of Justice grant money.

• Discussed the 50th anniversary of Homestead High School celebration fundraiser.

• Discussed the financing of the remodeling of Homestead High School.

(Aboite News reporter Cindy Larson contributed to this report.)

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