With enrollment growing every year, Lakeview Academy in Gainesville needs room for its students.
The private preparatory school on Lakeview Drive is planning an addition that will likely house middle school students and provide much-needed space for teachers and staff. It’s planned to be completed in time for the 2017-2018 school year.
“What we’re looking for is academic classroom space,” said John Kennedy, head of school at Lakeview. “We’ve had a need, really for about two to three years, for classrooms. The biggest need is in our learning support. We’ve tripled the number of people helping students of all abilities, and they really need a lot of space.”
Kennedy said overall enrollment is nearing 600 students this year, while it’s “been around 580” for the past few years.
The new, two-story addition will have 14-16 classrooms, two science labs and a computer lab.
“One will be a robotics lab for technology,” he said. “There will be several learning support rooms and then assorted offices.”
Renderings are still being developed, but the facility will likely be near 19,000 square feet.
The school currently has about two classes per grade level, with relatively small class sizes. But programs have been added over the years, particularly in the upper school with multiple science and art classes.
“So you may not have too many students in the classroom, but you still need another classroom,” Kennedy explained.
He said while the need for space was identified in the middle school, the biggest growth is in the lower school.
“We don’t have any space,” he said. “Our 3-year-old program is already closed. We could add a second and maybe a third, but there’s absolutely no where to put it.”
To accommodate both levels, the school will move the third, fourth and fifth grades to the space currently occupied by the middle school, and the middle school will be able to use the new addition when it is complete.
Kennedy said in 2006, the school had planned for a new, large middle school space. Students were moved into portable classrooms, but by the Great Recession, the addition was tabled.
Now, the new facility will go where the three portable classroom buildings have stood.
“We don’t like having modulars,” Kennedy said. “We call them cottages and try to be cute, but it’s not ideal. No one has complained to me once, but we’ll be moving them out and putting it there.”
He said the location is ideal, providing continuity between buildings on the campus.
Currently, the modulars are being moved just a couple hundred yards away. Students will continue to use them until the new facility is complete.
Carroll Daniel Construction was chosen for the project, and the company chose architect Steven Hill with H. Lloyd Hill Architects and Associates. Both companies have done numerous projects on the campus.
“Now the architect is coming up with drawings, and we’re getting a good idea of what it will look like,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the school has not yet done much formal fundraising for the building, but it already has the “foundational” needs. It will seek about $1.5 million for the rest of the project.
“We really wanted to build a building we can pay for,” he said.