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State of the Schools: Issues at Collinsville Primary include space, traffic
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Collinsville Primary School Principal Lisa Millner shows the school’s teacher work area, which she said is too small. Space is one of the chief problems facing the school. A consultant has proposed that it be consolidated with John Redd Smith Elementary in a new building.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

(Editor’s note: The Henry County School Board is considering consolidating John Redd Smith Elementary and nearby Collinsville Primary schools. Today, the Martinsville Bulletin looks at the conditions of Collinsville Primary School. John Redd Smith was featured in Sunday’s Bulletin.)

Issues of concern at Collinsville Primary School include traffic backup, the school being at capacity as far as space, no conference room(s) and three mobile units, said Principal Lisa Millner.

In its recent capital improvements study for Henry County Public Schools, Moseley Architects recommended consolidating John Redd Smith Elementary and nearby Collinsville Primary and shifting five special-needs classrooms from Stanleytown Elementary to the new school.

Superintendent Jared Cotton and the Henry County School Board currently are considering the architect’s recommendations.

Second-grade teacher Natalie Coleman said she sees both advantages and disadvantages of being in one of the mobile units at Collinsville Primary.

But hers is the one nearest the school’s main building and the only one that has a covered walkway. The other two are near the main building as well.

“I’ve been in a mobile unit four years now,” she said, adding she has more space and there are not as many interruptions throughout the day.

On the negative side, Coleman said, “I don’t have water in my mobile unit or a rest room.” Scheduled rest-room breaks are taken in the main building throughout the day.

Having running water in the mobile unit would be helpful for quick cleanups and doing experiments more easily, she said, adding her class does a lot of hands-on activities.

But, “teachers are adaptable,” she said.

Infrequently, during a tornado watch or warning when children in mobile units were moved inside the main building, Coleman had to modify her lesson because she was using technology such as an electronic whiteboard that she couldn’t carry inside, she said.

But overall, “I’ve been pleased with the way we’ve been able to handle situations in the mobile units,” Coleman said.

According to a county school board presentation in January 2013, having three mobile units creates a vulnerability or security issue at Collinsville Primary.

As for the issue of traffic congestion, vehicles leaving John Redd Smith Elementary must go from School Drive, on which JRSE is located, to Primary School Road, on which Collinsville Primary is located, and then onto Oakland Drive, Millner said. Vehicles going to Collinsville Primary turn from Oakland Drive onto Primary School Road, and leave by going from Primary School Road onto Oakland Drive. So there is a bottleneck at that intersection.

Collinsville Primary is the only school in the division that combines the gym, cafeteria and auditorium. Millner said when weather prevents students from going outside for physical education activities, indoor P.E. activities are held on less than half the basketball court when students are eating in the lunchroom. The regulation basketball goal near the ceiling cannot be lowered because of the stage. A shorter basketball goal on the floor is used, she pointed out.

Assemblies or speakers cannot be hosted on the stage when students are eating lunch in the lunchroom, which poses scheduling challenges, she said.

Keith Scott, Henry County Public Schools’ supervisor of facilities, said the gym cannot accommodate parks and recreation games.

Millner said the school does not have a conference room(s), so people needing privacy for conferences meet in her office.

There also were some tables and chairs in a hallway for teachers needing space for one-on-one instruction.

A work room has teacher mailboxes and some office machines but no planning space for teachers, Millner said.

Collinsville Primary has room enough for only half its preschoolers. Two preschool classes (32 students) are housed at Collinsville Primary, and two preschool classes (32 students) are housed at John Redd Smith Elementary, Millner said.

She also said Collinsville Primary has “100 percent exposure to the neighborhood without any barrier” (such as a fence).

Also, the school has inadequate parking, she said.

Scott said in terms of square footage, the school’s media center is too small.


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