(Lander, Wyo.) – Lander’s Gannett Peak Elementary School was the focus of the Fremont County School District #25’s site inspection delegation on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, the group toured the Rawlins Elementary School. A school in Pinedale is next on the agenda.

When the tours are complete, the participants will have an idea of what they like from each of the schools as Riverton prepares to build a 360-student K-3 elementary at the end of West Monroe. The district is looking for a prototype design which would take an existing set of plans from one school which could then be adjusted to fit Riverton’s need, all the while accelerating the timeline by six to nine months. District 25 is anxious to open a new elementary, as it currently cannot meet the legislatively mandated student-teacher ration of 16 to 1. Riverton’s primary grades are currently at a 19.1 to 1 ratio.

Supt. Terry Snyder and Assist. Supt. JoAnne Flanagan talked with architect Dan

Supt. Snyder and Assist. Supt. Flanagan talked with architect Dan Odasz (EO)

The schools visited this week, and next Monday, were all designed by the three finalist architectural firms in the running to design the new Riverton school. The three, MOA Architecture of Casper, Plan1 of Cody and Sandstrom Associates of Utah., will have their final interviews with District 25 next week and out of those interviews a firm will be recommended to design the new Riverton school, with the consent of the Wyoming School Facilities Department.

“I’ll tell you why these visits are important,” Superintendent Terry Snyder told County10.com news after the Lander tour today. “On paper, this looked like a plain school, but once we got to see inside, the school design was enhanced in my mind.” He said District 25 learned a lesson with the plans for Riverton’s Aspen Park Elementary, which looked very good on paper, but the building ended up being confusing to negotiate after it was constructed.

Snyder said it was important, in his mind, to visit multiple schools. “There are attributes in both of the schools we have visited so far that we like. We can take the plans and make the adjustments we feel are necessary to accommodate those attributes in our new school,” he said. “With the feedback we’re getting from the tour, it will make the process more efficient and issues will be hammered out ahead of time. By the time we’re done with this process, we’ll have a good feel for what we want.”

Plan1 architect Dan Odasz of Cody was on hand at Gannett Peak to answer questions about design elements and materials used in the building. Favorable comments were received on the natural lighting inside the school, the natural wood treatments, use of color and floor materials. Concerns were expressed over the height and depth of bookcases in the media center/library, the way the  administration area was organized and placement of the restrooms.

“These are all things we can look at with the design of our school,” said Larry Hartwell, District 25’s building supervisor during a question and answer session with Odasz.

Gannett Peak Principal Jade Morton noted that the Lander elementary is the largest in the state with over 560 students. He said design elements, especially the use of hallway space for instructional areas, was very popular with his staff. Similar areas were noted at the Rawlins Elementary.

Photos by Ernie Over. Mouse over for captions, click to enlarge.