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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

School color scheme
The yellow and tan colors shown on the design renderings presented to the public Dec. 9 by Educational Design Associates will be the new color scheme for Anna Maria Elementary School's new building.

Landscape review
Landscape architect/arborist David Jones reviews Anna Maria Elementary School's future landscaping plans with parents at the Dec. 9 public meeting. Islander Photos: Diana Bogan

Construction overview
Skip Allen of Educational Design Associates presented the final construction plans for AME to nearly 20 interested community members at the Dec. 9 public meeting.

AME construction plans finalized

The community had an opportunity to view the final construction plans for Anna Maria Elementary School at a public meeting held by members of the school's construction team Dec. 9.

Manatee County School District Director of Construction Services Sherry Dowling told the small group in attendance that the team members spent countless meetings trying to hit the project's guaranteed maximum price and that he believes the final plans are very close.

Dowling said the plans unveiled that evening would be presented to the board in mid-January and go to bid in late February. Construction is likely to begin April 2.

"We chose the second," Dowling said, "to avoid starting on April Fool's Day."

The new Island school should be completed and ready for classes in August 2005, according to Dowling.

Skip Allen of Educational Design Associates gave the community a brief overview of the building's components. Allen said the new school has been designed for 366 students and contains two kindergarten, five primary and six intermediate classrooms.

Instead of an elevator, the main entry will have a handicap lift and the building will have three fire exists.

The entry way of the school will feature a dolphin sculpture, which is the school's mascot. The campus will be fenced along the side-yard boundaries and extending to the sides of the building for security purposes.

Attendees were assured by team members that the playground and ball fields would still be accessible after school. There will be gates for public access so the fencing should not restrict community use of the school grounds.

Dowling said there are operational reasons for having fences. Another security measure Dowling said AME will receive is a security-camera system that is being installed in all of the county's new schools.

The security cameras monitor the school grounds and can even be accessed by the school principal from a home computer.

AME Principal Kathy Hayes said some of the camera locations under consideration include school entries, the auditorium entry and the bike racks.

Another security feature the school will have is a lock-down system. Faculty members will have security cards to use the exterior entries while classes are in session. The front entry will be the only entry open to the public while classes are in session.

Hayes said parents will still be able to drop students off in the morning and walk them to their classrooms without signing in at the front office.

The kindergarten/grade-one playground will be adjacent to the building and fenced as required by law, according to Allen. It will contain a new play structure, which is currently being used in the temporary third- through fifth-grade playground. The old play ship, see-saws, alligators and new swings will be relocated to the new playground.

The primary play area will also have a sandbox and paved trike path.

The intermediate playground will include physical fitness equipment center and play structure. It will be adjacent to the basketball courts and new four-square court.

Outdoor restrooms will also be installed near the covered play area and the gazebo will be relocated to the area of the basketball court and covered play area.

Landscape architect/arborist David Jones said the team was able to adjust the location of the intermediate playground and parking lot, which saves a significant number of palm trees.

Jones also confirmed that all of the remaining oak trees in the south hammock will be preserved.

Jones said although the team was able to reduce the amount of fill used on the site, the landscape amphitheater will remain a key feature in front of the school. A space within the amphitheater will also be designed to house the peace pole and memorial trees.

Jones said the whole project really hasn't changed much and the team made sure all the elements presented previously were about the same.

At the close of the meeting Jack Egan, an Island resident, credited the former community representative to the construction team, Maria Facheris and others who stood up and fought for what they believed the community would want.

"We've had concessions," Egan said, "and we have a better looking school now than the first [August] meeting. If we hadn't expressed our concerns, we would have a plain block building."