Sunflower Elementary School opened its doors in August.
The 79,000-square foot building, 1325 Falcon Way, Ottawa, finished up construction this summer.
“What we have at Sunflower are bigger spaces, more open spaces,” Jeanne Stroh, superintendent, said of the new school.
The budget for Sunflower totaled $13.8 million out of the district’s $63.1 million bond project to upgrade all school buildings in the district, including expanding and upgrading the high school. Sunflower contains large art and music rooms, along with more viable office spaces for staff and administration, Stroh said. It also includes a spacious teacher resource room, bathrooms in each of the classroom hallways, a gym separate from the cafeteria and a stage area (located centrally, and can be accessed from either the cafeteria or gym). “Group rooms” in each hallway will also be available if there are guest speakers, or experiments to be done with more than one section of a grade, Stroh said.
Classroom sizes are around 1,300 square feet for kindergarten, and 885 square feet for all other grades.
“That’s all researched-based,” Stroh said. “We tried to make sure the classrooms weren’t too small and had the spaces and needs for everything teachers need to be able to do.”
A carpeted library houses two classrooms on either side that both the librarian or teachers can utilize, along with a technology discovery room. The technology discovery room, Stroh said, is similar to what might be known as a traditional computer lab, but that it’s flexible and includes new technology for students.
Behind the school is a playground with turf and separate areas for the younger and older kids to play on. The equipment for older students can also be used by the younger ones, Stroh said. The two areas will be separated by an “oak forest” with musical woodwind instruments. The playground also includes a swing set, basketball courts, soccer fields and a softball field.
Three sections of each grade, kindergarten through fifth, were planned for Sunflower’s launch in August. The school was built with a vision of the next 10 to 15 years in mind, Stroh said, so the district expects that the number of students will grow. Sunflower has enough room to accommodate four sections of each grade, with all the equipment and furniture ready to go, but those classrooms will remain empty until the need is there for the amount of students, according to the district.
For the 2017-2018 school year, Stroh estimated Sunflower would have around 350 to 390 students, while Lincoln Elementary will be around 400 students and Garfield Elementary about 300.
New boundaries for Ottawa district elementary schools were approved by the school board.
Nearly 40 percent of students from Lincoln, Garfield and the former Eugene Field elementary schools chose the name of the Sunflower elementary in a vote last year, which was then approved by the school board,