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Over the next few years, East and West Leyden will undergo major construction aimed at changing the layout of the building to improve instructional opportunities.
According to Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak, “There is an addition as well as a number of renovations” planned to begin in the summer of 2017, which means preparations will begin soon. The project should roughly be finalized for the 2020 school year.
Part of the renovation is constructing a horseshoe shaped addition on the East Leyden campus, which will include a new cafeteria and recreation center, and another is a rebuilding and expansion of the West Leyden cafeteria.
At East, the intended addition onto what is currently Dodge field will add about 122,000 square feet onto the existing 400,000 square foot East Leyden campus. According to Dr. Polyak, the new construction will feature a common area for students to dine and converse and a courtyard. He explained that the school intends “to have spaces that are welcoming, that are places [students] want to be in, and are fun.”
The cafeteria addition allows for a change to an instructional routine that the Leyden community knows too well: split periods. Dr Polyak explained that the intended changes for the cafeterias allows each school to seat more students in one period. The current East Leyden cafeteria seats about 330 students in one lunch period, which requires seating students across five twenty-five minute lunch periods. The new cafeteria and common area will be able to seat about 600 students, replacing the need for the split period lunches to about three full period lunches.
According to Dr. Polyak, the elimination of the split period will provide an opening in the students’ schedules, allowing numerous things to take place. Committees are forming to discuss new schedules and potential revisions of existing programs.
One of the possibilities is the idea of a hour-long lunch period, and possibly the elimination of a period eleven, meaning your hour-long lunch period may be a privilege, and Guided Study and Access might fit into that hour.
East Leyden currently has a pool that only has five lanes, and the inability to do diving because of its shallowness throughout the pool. The aquatic center would house an eight lane pool as well as a diving well, allowing for the possibility of a water polo team. With the new pool, the current pool will be filled with cement to house a new wrestling room. Another part of this this addition will be moving the girls locker to the current band room, which would allow all general P.E class rooms to be in one area. The band room will be moved to its more convenient and logical place, near the auditorium.
While the bus drop off will eliminate parking from the corner of King and Calwagner, Dr. Polyak assured me that he believes the fifty parking spots lost is more than made up in the front parking lot on 25th Avenue.
Dr. Polyak explained that the school district is funding the construction projects through something called debt certificates. This is similar to a low-interest mortgage. This allows the district to get the money it needs for construction and allows them to pay it back over the next 20 years.