Building Recognition Reed Elementary

The Last “Learning Cottage” Leaves the District

The last modular classroom at Reed is being driven away.
Reflections from Director of Facilities, Mike Noonan…

Lets call this one almost gone. This is the modular from Reed headed south on Lindberg towards a new life. Didn’t quite make it to the highway as they had to pull over and adjust the rigging. Crossed my fingers and, when I came back an hour later, it was gone. I feel like I’m coming full circle watching these leave the District. They were originally brought in as the Learning Cottage Village at the Middle School, the old Ladue Early Childhood Center (LECC) and at the various elementary schools to facilitate renovation specific to each site. A few hung around long enough to become semi-permanent fixtures to support various classroom needs due to overcrowding at the elementary schools.

It has been interesting to chart the life cycle of these in relation to the evolution of the facilities of the district. Although not part of our Master Plan, these units played heavily in our ability to provide temporary instructional space while our Master Plan evolved.

The Westminster property became available. The decision was made to purchase the site and building to build a state-of-the-art early childhood center. The Facilities Committee was formed around that time and the first directive was to investigate and report to the Board the possible options for using the remaining Westminster facility once the oldest wing was removed to make room for the LECC. The Fifth Grade Center was chosen for its future versatility and immediate relief of our overcrowded elementary schools infrastructure.  As the last modular unit leaves the district, we  are putting the final touches on the Fifth Grade Center as we prepare it to open in August 2013. This might not be traditional died-in-the-wool facility planning, but in a landlocked district, this is an excellent example of taking advantage of unique opportunities and using the resources available to make informed future-based, flexible facility decisions. I’m happy to see them go, but watching them brings back memories of long, unregulated  permitting and occupancy processes and inspections. There are not a lot of modular units in Frontenac, Ladue, Olivette or Creve Coeur, so each municipality was different in their requirements.  Septic tanks and their occasional overflow problems had the City of Creve Coeur requiring running water and sewer capabilities for the units. In addition, the majority of these units arrived shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit the coast and there was a lot of  speculation they were full of formaldehyde based on the rumors about the temporary housing set up in modular units on the Gulf Coast. This was not an easy notion to dispel, and earned a few of our modular units the nickname of “Fish Tank” because they smelled like, well, fish tanks until they “cured.”

They leave a work intensive path behind them. Main electric feeds, fire alarm and data transmission lines have to be removed back to their sources and we also have to deal with the 26 x 3 foot concrete piers that supported these units. In all, there were probably about 300 of these concrete chunks left behind over the course of the removal of all these units.  The sites will be graded, leveled, seeded, strawed and returned to usable green space for the schools.