State College

‘The end is in sight’ for major renovation projects at State College elementary schools

What the completed Corl Street Elementary School renovations will look like

The Corl Street Elementary School renovation project is underway. Students moved into completed portions of the project after the winter break.
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The Corl Street Elementary School renovation project is underway. Students moved into completed portions of the project after the winter break.

The once narrow hallways at Corl Street Elementary School were expanded, new classrooms were added and all students shifted back inside the school instead of trailers after returning from winter break on Jan. 2.

The school is one of three in the State College Area School District that’s being updated to make them comparable to the rest of the district’s elementary schools.

The Corl Street and Radio Park Elementary buildings date back to the 1950s and the last round of renovations were completed in the 1960s. A new elementary school in Houserville — Spring Creek Elementary — is on schedule to be open for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Corl Street Principal Charlotte Zmyslo said Friday that students in second through fifth grade moved into their permanent classrooms, while kindergarten and first grade students are in new rooms that are temporary.

Meaghan Canavaciol works on a reading activity Friday with her third grade class in their new classroom at Corl Street Elementary School. Portions of the renovations are completed as other sections continue to be worked on. Abby Drey

“The trailers have been pulled off completely because this will be a whole new construction site,” Zmyslo said. “This is temporary for the main stay of what Corl Street will actually be. It’s going to be a work in progress and that’s how you do it, but it passed code for students to be here and for learning to take place.”

The Corl Street building features an open floor plan, large windows that allow natural light and “whiteboard computerized pens” that put overhead projectors to shame.

“We like the interactive aspect of the board. We’re able to bring up a lot more kids to participate,” third grade teacher Meaghan Canavaciol said. “They were so excited about it.”

Fifth grader Zoe Salter shows how the new projection systems work at Corl Street Elementary on Friday, Jan. 11, 2018. Each classroom will have one of the systems when the construction is completed. Abby Drey

A large group instruction room, which looks more like an outdoor auditorium, was completed Thursday. Zmyslo said it’s large enough to seat the entire student body.

“If there’s anything shown or we want to use it for whole group instruction for the school, we could fit every one of them up in that area,” Zmyslo said. “It’ll be beautiful.”

An upgraded multipurpose room that serves as a gymnasium and cafeteria, a new teacher’s lounge, air conditioning and a dishwasher — for the first time in Corl Street history — are among some of the other upgrades at Corl Street.

“It’s actually larger than the space we had completely for years and years. All of that kind of configures well. They’ll have a nice space,” Zmyslo said. “I think they had 1,900 square feet there. We’ll have 2,240 here. We got all programs in no matter what the grades were.”

A look into the new multipurpose space from the faculty lounge at Corl Street Elementary on Friday, Jan. 11, 2018. Portions of the Corl Street Elementary renovations are completed as other sections continue to be worked on. Abby Drey

The three projects cost a combined $64,802,589, according to SCASD Communications Director Chris Rosenblum. The district also received two grants worth about $4 million for the Radio Park and Spring Creek projects.

“We’re really excited to reach this stage,” Rosenblum said. “By moving into these classrooms and opening parts of the building, we’re allowing the other parts of the building to be completed and that means that we’re all on track for the final completion for the 2019-2020 school year.”

Radio Park project

Phase two has been completed at Radio Park, which allowed third through fifth grade students to move into their new classrooms, Radio Park Principal Zac Wynkoop wrote in an email.

“The excitement about our new learning spaces has been awesome!” Wynkoop wrote. “While I feel that we’ve always had a strong sense of pride in our school, it seems to have reached a new level with our updated facilities.”

In addition to the furniture and whiteboards, he said the new projectors — like those at Corl Street — are a “significant upgrade, which has allowed our teachers to enhance the learning experiences of our students.”

While there are technical differences, Radio Park mirrors Corl Street with air conditioning and an open floor plan that “has provided a more connected feel throughout the building.”

One difference between the two, however, is the gymnasium and cafeteria.

Both Radio Park and Spring Creek are scheduled to have separated cafeterias and gymnasiums because they have ample space, according to Rosenblum.

“I want to thank our faculty, staff, students and families for navigating temporary inconveniences for a amazing new school. I’m amazed by the resiliency of everyone as we continue to provide an excellent educational experience for our students despite the distractions caused by construction,” Wynkoop wrote.

The third and final phase will finish construction on the gym, cafeteria, kitchen, library, large group instruction room and office spaces.

“The end is in sight for a beautiful new beginning!” Wynkoop wrote.

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Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.