The long-awaited renovation and expansion of the Slackwood School library is currently underway.
The Lawrence Township Public Schools Board of Education awarded a contract for $230,000 to Avco Construction Inc. for the project at its May 6 meeting. It was one of six bidders for the job. The bids ranged from $184,400 to $326,000.
School district officials rejected the low bid of $184,400 because J.H.Williams Enterprises, which submitted that bid, was “non-responsive/responsible.” Avco submitted the second lowest bid at $230,000, and was given the contract for the work.
The project is being partially funded by a $100,000 grant from the Lawrence Township Education Foundation. The school district will make up the difference between the foundation’s grant and the cost of the project.
Lawrence Township Education Foundation officials were excited by the grant application, which they said was going to a population and a part of the district where it had not spent much money. The elementary school is in the southern part of the township.
In the past, the Lawrence Township Education Foundation awarded grants for projects in the upper grades, such as the art room at the Lawrence Middle School and the technology lab at Lawrence High School.
School district officials applied for a grant to expand and renovate the Slackwood School library. The project calls for relocating and doubling the size of the library, which is housed in one room on the first floor of the elementary school.
The library will be moved into a remodeled space in the basement of the school. It will feature a media zone and a STREAM (Science Technology Research Engineering Arts and Math) Center.
The media zone will include the library’s book collection, interactive video technology, and research tools such as laptop computers and tablets. It will be large enough to handle several classes simultaneously for lessons and projects.
The Slackwood STREAM Center will be located in a separate area. It will include whiteboard walls, as well as wipe-off tables for brainstorming, mind-mapping and design work.
The STREAM Center also can accommodate rotating projects and initiatives that include a Makerspace, coding station and video production studio. It can also be used as a family resource and education center.
“The Makerspace is a flexible space for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses everything from high tech to ‘no tech’ tools,” said Jeanne Muzi, Slackwood School principal.
The students can explore a variety of materials and discover their own interests and passions, Muzi said. They can hone their problem-solving skills and take on challenges.
The goal of the Makerspace is for students to work together to learn, collaborate and build, she said. They can explore new ideas which will enable them to create new things or to improve things that already exist, she said.
Overall, the planned library expansion and renovation project will be “truly transformational,” Muzi said.
“This is going to change our school in significant ways. This will really impact the students and the parents for a really long time,” Muzi said.