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Two new school projects part of larger district-wide improvement plans  

K-12 Schools

Two new school projects part of larger district-wide improvement plans  

Gladstone Elementary in Rhode Island, and Plum Grove Middle School in Illinois, reflect trends toward collaboration and consolidation.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | August 7, 2023
Additions will convert Plum Grove Junior High School into a middle school
Additions and renovations will convert Plum Grove Junior High School into a middle school. Image: Wold Architects and Engineers

Last November, Community Consolidated School District 15, consisting of 20 schools and seven municipalities in Illinois, approved the $93 million Moving 15 Forward referendum. Upon that approval, the District began work to address three major areas of improvement: repairing and restoring facilities, updating learning spaces, and streamlining students’ transitions from elementary through middle school into local high school districts 211 and 214.
Included in this effort is the expansion of Plum Grove Junior High School in Rolling Meadows, Ill., from a junior high serving seventh and eighth graders into a middle school that also educates sixth grade students.
Plum Grove Middle School, which will serve more than 800 students, is seen as a cornerstone of the District’s move toward adolescent-focused middle schools that use the “house” concept, which creates teams of teachers and staff that share smaller groups of students through an academic schedule.

Plum Grove’s $18.4 million upgrade and expansion got started on July 27. Wold Architects and Engineers provided the designs, and Nicholas & Associates is the general contractor. As part of Phase 1 of a four-phase construction plan, additions at Plum Grove include two new three-story classroom wings, or “houses,” which form the backbone of the middle school concept, for a total of 12 new general education classrooms. 

Each grade-level house has its own learning commons with an innovative shared learning hub, including a central collaboration space, new science lab spaces, and modern, flexible classrooms. In addition, the project includes site updates such as traffic and paving improvements, a new track, and play fields.

Construction is expected to be completed for the 2024-2025 school year. 

Sustainable, energy efficient design


Rendering of Gladstone Elementary
The new Gladstone Elementary School will be 40.000 sf larger than the school it replaces. Image: Finegold Alexander Architects

A week before Plum Grove’s expansion was getting underway, the City of Cranston, R.I., held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new $83 million, 105,000-sf Gladstone Elementary School. This is one of five core building projects identified in Cranston’s five-year facility improvement plan that has been approved by Rhode Island School Building Authority for Housing Aid State Reimbursement. 
Gladstone Elementary will be 40,000 sf larger than the existing school it replaces, and will incorporate the student body of Arlington Elementary, bringing its total to 798 K-5 students. The Building Team on this project includes Gilbane Building Company, Jacobs Engineering, and Finegold Alexander Architects. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2025.
The old school had been functioning up until June 14, but was in serious need of repair, with boarded-up windows. It will be demolished and during construction students will be relocated to a temporary location in Cranston.
The new building is designed to exceed current sustainability and energy codes. A combination of sub-surface and surface stormwater filtration systems are part of its scope, and the project will be compliant with the Northeast Collaborative for High-Performance Schools Criteria program (NE-CHPs), which provides guidance and verification for new school projects, renovations, and additions.
Gladstone will feature a combination of learning and community engagement areas, like a cafeteria and gymnasium with performance spaces.  Its learning spaces will be modeled after Eden Park School in Garden City, where open floor plans contribute to collaborative learning environments. Gladstone will also have designated special-education classrooms, administration areas, a nurse’s office, and food preparation space.

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