Superintendent Terry Snyder addressed the several dozen tour participants on a District bus en route to Rawlins Tuesday morning. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Rawlins, Wyo.) – Several dozen representatives from Fremont County School District #25, administrators, staff and patrons, visited the Rawlins Elementary School Tuesday in the first of three visits at possible prototype schools. Other visits are scheduled in Lander and Pinedale. The delegation, led by Superintendent Terry Snyder, inspected the school, talked with architects and staff to learn what worked in the building, what didn’t and what they would do differently if they could, among other topics.

The Rawlins Elementary School. (EO)

The Rawlins Elementary School. (EO)

Snyder explained that by using a prototype school design, the district could save up to six to nine months in the design of Riverton’s new elementary school on West Monroe. Tuesday’s visit was hosted by MOA Architecture of Casper, one of three firms who are finalists for the contract to to design the new Riverton school. If the district finds a school that would work, that design, with some alternations for Riverton’s particular need, would allow construction to begin earlier and have the building ready for occupancy by the fall of 2016.

The Rawlins school is a large building, some 67,000 square feet in size while Riverton’s new school will be 50,804 square feet. The Rawlins school holds grades 2 through 5 for just over 500 students. Riverton’s new school is being designed for 360 students in grades K-3. The new Rawlins building opened in January of 2011 and consolidated all of Rawlin’s elementary students in one location. Next door to the new school is the Carbon County district’s K-1 building.  The building houses two separate wings, one for grades 2-3 and the other for grades 4-5. Each has a separate administration area with a joint media center and gymnasium.

One of the major problems at the new Rawlins school was traffic flow, which could also be a concern in Riverton. A second exit out of the Rawlins school was required to relieve significant traffic congestion. The district estimated that 70 percent of the students would be delivered by school buses, but the reverse turned out to the the case, with most students being transported to the building by parents. Riverton’s new school is at the current end of West Monroe Street, but plans are to extend West Monroe to an extension of Major Avenue south from Riverview, giving the school two access points.

One of the Rawlins school’s best features, according to teachers who met with the delegation, was the hallway design where kids could stretch out and individual instruction provided. The natural light in the building was also cited as a benefit, as was separate heating and cooling controls for each classroom. The building’s HVAC system is provided by a geothermal system.

Concern was raised over the hard surface flooring, which requires a maintenance staff member to spend four hours each day cleaning off black marks using a pole with a tennis ball at the end.

The playground at the Rawlins school was placed on the east side of the building, so the building could act as a wind shield. MOA’s Principal, Kevin Sullivan, said if his firm is the successful contractor for the Riverton school, a similar playground design could be utilized.

Lander’s Gannet Peak Elementary will be toured this morning.

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