Come springtime, middle school students at St. Patrick School could be moving into a new space. The P-8 school recently broke ground on an expansion to its middle school wing. The project will add two classrooms as well as free up space elsewhere in the building for hands-on learning activities, academic support services and student organizations.
Growth Prompts School Expansion
Principal Scott Czarnopys says there is one word to explain why a school addition is necessary: growth.
“We’ve experienced 10 years of enrollment growth,” he says. When Czarnopys arrived at the school, it had an enrollment of 76 students for the 2010-2011 school year. This year, the number is 230 students. In the last decade, the school has added two preschool programs for 3-year olds and 4-year olds, a developmental kindergarten, childcare and daily band, among other programs and ancillary services.
Between those new programs and the enrollment growth, St. Patrick School is outgrowing its current space. Already, the school has filled up every available room in its building.
“We are occupying two rooms that are 2/3rd the size of a regular classroom,” Czarnopys says. “They were never intended to be classrooms.”
Currently, class sizes at St. Patrick School are capped at 26 students, and rooms for the 3-year old preschool to 2nd grade are at full capacity. The school’s smaller rooms house middle school classes with fewer students, but Czarnopys wants to ensure there is adequate space in that wing to accommodate the larger classes in the pipeline.
The expansion of the middle school wing will add new 7th and 8th grade classrooms. Once those classes are moved, their previous rooms will be used for an additional childcare room and ancillary space for academic support services and student groups such as FFA and Lego Robotics.
Addition Funded Out of Savings
Czarnopys says the generosity of the St. Patrick Parish and School community has allowed the expansion to be funded out of savings. There has been no need to mount a capital campaign to raise the money or go into debt to complete the building. Instead, some money from fundraising events such as the annual St. Patrick Festival Auction has been set aside in recent years as school and parish officials anticipated the need for an addition.
Although a second expansion is not anticipated at this time, the current addition is being built in such a way that it will be easy to extend utilities and add to the building if needed. “We’re doing it with that possibility in mind, but there are no plans at this time,” Czarnopys says.
Excavating has already begun, and the project is expected to take 5-6 months to complete. If all goes well, St. Patrick 7th and 8th graders will be able to spread out in a new space after spring break.