School board considers early childhood wing at Winn

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By Dave Taylor

The Carroll County Board of Education is studying the possible addition of 800 square feet of classroom space to the Kathryn Winn Primary School.

The wing would accommodate the Early Head Start and the Head Start students, according to Lisa James, superintendent of Carroll County Schools.

The school district received a two-year $2.12 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Early Head Start Expansion Grant in December. The Early Head Start program is similar to the current Head Start program, but aimed for zero to three-year-olds, according to a statement released by the school system in December.

“The goal of the (Carroll County) board of education is to make sure that we have room for each child,” James said Monday. “We’re looking at four additional classrooms for Early Head Start and four classrooms for Head Start, so we would have a wing for early childhood studies.”

Plans for an addition at Winn are still preliminary, but if approved by the state, it would mean separate construction projects would be underway simultaneously at two of the district’s school facilities.

Renovations currently underway at Richard B. Cartmell Elementary School, located at 1706 Highland Avenue, were necessary due to overcrowding issues. Prior to the second semester of the current school year the 46-year-old facility housed students in Head Start and grades four and five, while Kathryn Winn Primary, 907 Hawkins Street, housed children in kindergarten through third grade.

After renovations the two schools will be reconfigured with the third grade moving to Cartmell and Head Start moving to Winn for the 2010-11 school year.

The Head Start program, displaced by the Cartmell construction project, moved to a temporary facility on Highland Avenue to finish out the current school year.

“We have been very fortunate in leasing the building that Head Start is in and probably temporarily when Head Start makes that transition to Winn our Early Head Start will start” (in the Highland Avenue facility), James said.

When the school board began the process that led to the Cartmell renovation, “we knew that probably at mid-point we would start to try to figure out what can we do at Winn based on reconfiguration,” James said. “We have to do a building analysis to look at room spaces with re-housing Head Start and with the little twist of adding Early Head Start, which at the time we started planning all this it wasn’t even in the mix. So over the last six months a lot of things have transpired with Early Head Start.”

Ross Tarrant Architects, the Lexington-based design firm that has served as consultants for the Cartmell renovation, met with local school officials last week regarding construction possibilities at Winn, James said. Consultants from Ross Tarrant have been studying the layout of the property to develop a plan for the best location of the new wing. Engineers will survey the Winn campus property this week.

“We have to look at all aspects of the design just we did at Cartmell,” James said. “We have to look at traffic flow, buses. We’re land locked here and the property will only allow us to do so much. The architects have been really good about helping us and going back and forth on discussions on what is best.”

                  No cost estimates have been developed for the proposed Winn project, James said. No firm decisions have been made, she added, “and probably won’t be for a while.”