Society

‘New’ elementary school unveiled in Milano

Landmark old MHS building housing grades Pre-K to five
By MARIE BAKKEN
Reporter Staff Writer
Students at Milano Elementary school were walking new halls on the first day

Above, Endy Flores (back) and Mason Westbrook look over a fourth grade display at an open house on Aug. 18 at the “new” Milano Elementary campus. Below, new wall surfaces and flooring were part of the major overhall for the Depression-era rock building. Reporter/Marie Bakken Above, Endy Flores (back) and Mason Westbrook look over a fourth grade display at an open house on Aug. 18 at the “new” Milano Elementary campus. Below, new wall surfaces and flooring were part of the major overhall for the Depression-era rock building. Reporter/Marie Bakken of classes Monday morning. At least, they were new halls to them.

The old Works Progress Administration (WPA) rock building that served for many years as a high school/junior high has been renovated as an elementary school.

Milano superintendent Lindy Robinson said total amount spent on renovations and such to convert the new elementary campus came to approximately $467,000 ($214,000 in government stimulus money and around $253,000 from the designated fund balance).

“The estimate from architects in Bryan was $5.1 million, that included the g ym, however,” Robinson said.

Milano’s newly renovated elementary school may show some age outside, but there are plenty of new things inside for parents and students alike. Elementary students began their first day of classes on this campus Monday. Milano’s newly renovated elementary school may show some age outside, but there are plenty of new things inside for parents and students alike. Elementary students began their first day of classes on this campus Monday. The gym on that campus was not renovated but improvements included new wall surfaces in the hallway and new f looring as well.

The now “new” elementary campus has two classrooms for each grade, except Pre-K (where their are morning and afternoon classes), resource room, computer lab, library, librarian office, cafeteria, “Reading Recovery” room, ESL room and a full size gymnasium.

“The gym was a big push for moving the elementary, not to mention safety,” Robinson said. “It helps make things easier to manage. It brings everyone closer together, cuts down on busing kids back and forth and having to transport food. It’s a safety issue and we can have the younger kids here for the pep rallies,” Robinson said.

Moving around The old elementar y Pre-K building has been moved and converted into administration offices and now sits at the northwest back corner of the rock building. It includes the superintendent and administration secretaries offices along with a board meeting room.

The old kindergarten building, constructed in 1989 that also housed the elementary cafeteria, was moved in two sections, placed back together and is now kindergarten and Pre-K classrooms. It sits where the old bus lot was between the elementary gym and that campuses cafeteria.

Falling into place

The thought process of moving the elementary school to the rock building (nicknamed “the Alamo” by MISD students many years ago due to its light-colored rock façade) began when administrators were looking at having to save more money.

Walls were stripped down to the old yellow and white cement surface during renovations of the now Milano Elementary school. Walls were stripped down to the old yellow and white cement surface during renovations of the now Milano Elementary school. “We had to develop an Energy Plan for the district. I prepared one trying to be a visionary and cut electrical costs. This was just a futuristic plan,” Robinson said. “This plan included down-sizing from three campuses to two in order to save administrative and electrical costs.”

Plans started to come together last summer when Rockdale ISD sold portable buildings used at their elementary campus when it housed Pre-K through fifth grades.

With what Robinson called an opportunity that “fell into our

lap,” the old fourth grade building for Rockdale Elementar y became the new Milano Junior High School. The building was placed last summer and at the semester break of the 2009-10 school year, Milano Junior High was moved from the rock building to the new portable wing behind the high school.

In summer 2009 new, almost panoramic windows were installed at the current junior high building. Robinson said the money for those upgrades were included in last year’s budget.

‘Going green’

To keep up with “going green” efforts, Oncor helped out by contributing to the purchase of energy efficient air conditioning units for classrooms through one of its energy efficient grants.

Milano ISD was awarded a matching grant of $25,000 from Oncor for increasing the energy efficiency of the air conditioning and lighting systems at Milano Elementary. The district received the grant through the company’s “Take a Load Off, Texas” program.

“The grant from Oncor was instrumental in the completion of this much-needed upgrade project,” Robinson said. “While enjoying the energy savings, our students and faculty are appreciating the increased comfort in the classrooms.”

Community reaction

When the whole sw itching around idea got out, there was some opposition in the community, but Robinson said the elected board of trustees is doing what they feel is best for Milano and its schools.

“Change is hard in a small town, but I think all will enjoy it,” Robinson said. “It will be good for the community.”

Once citizens got to see the progress and main building finished during an open house held Aug. 18, their reaction has been positive, according to Robinson.

“I have had many calls saying they love it,” Robinson said. “I am proud for the community, teachers and, most importantly, the kids.”

Out with the old

With classes no longer being held at the old elementary school, located about one mile east of the current campus, what will happen to that building?

Robinson said she has brought up to the board of trustees several times what to do with the old building.

She said that trustees said they want to “finish one thing at a time.”

Building history

The new improved elementar y building was erected in 1940 through the WPA, a program implemented through then President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”

The building was needed to house the many students that attended Milano ISD through a consolidation with many of the smaller countr y schools that began in 1930. Students from communities such as Smyrna, Summit, Sand Point, Sand Grove, Sipe Springs, Sandy Creek, Liber t y, Hanover and Prospect joined current Milano students at the school on the hill. In January 1940, first through eleventh grades roamed the halls of the then new school building.

The old Milano Elementary was known until the mid-1980s as Milano East Elementary. The campus was actually used as the segregated school for black students.

Milano ISD desegregated in the fall of 1965 and the then black school was converted into an elementary. The elementary school received two different additions in the late 1980s that added a total of six classrooms, two restrooms and a cafeteria.

Another building with four classrooms, two restrooms and a book room was completed in 1996. Portable buildings had been brought in through the years to house offices, music rooms and Pre-K classes.

Still work to do

Despite classes being in session, there is still work to do on the new elementary campus.

“We still need to finish playground sites, fence around Pre-K and kindergarten building and the back of elementary to prevent thru traffic, along with underpinning and deck being built on the administration office,” Robinson said.

The playground equipment was moved from the old elementary campus, but has not been installed. Students are currently playing in the gym.

A covered pavilion is also in the works between the softball and baseball fields behind the new elementary. Robinson said that should be completed by the end of September.


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