Showing signs of progress
Anyone driving through the Whitehall-Coplay School District campus has probably noticed the construction site between Whitehall Township Public Library and the district administration building. This will be the location of the new building replacing Gockley Elementary School.
On Aug. 26, 2019, the district implemented its first year of full-day kindergarten. This created the need for six additional classrooms, due to both morning and afternoon students attending school at the same time. Temporary portable classrooms were added to the building, while the new, larger school is being built.
A feasibility study done by Breslin Ridyard Fadero Architects, of Allentown, prompted the district’s decision to build a new school, rather than add to the current building, as it was deemed to be more economical in the long run. The estimated cost of the new building is $38,486,510.
“The project is currently in the design development phase,” Dr. Lorie Hackett, WCSD superintendent, said. “We have reviewed preliminary architectural drawings and layouts for the building itself, as well as the individual classroom layout and design. The site is currently being surveyed and tested for compliance with building and stormwater requirements.
“The next step is to undergo the value engineering phase of the building project,” she said.
According to Hackett, the 95,000-square-foot building will be two stories tall, housing kindergarten classes on the first floor and first grade on the second. It will have two separate wings, one for classrooms and the other for administration, the cafeteria, the library and other shared spaces.
The building will include a playground in a safe, carefully selected area behind the school. There will be a bus loop and separate parking area for staff and parents.
“The district office will be demolished tentatively in January 2021, and the administration will be relocated to a temporary location until the new elementary school is completed, tentatively August 2022,” Hackett said. “Once it is completed and occupied, a portion of the existing Gockley will be renovated to permanently house the district office.”
The district is still discussing options for uses of the old building’s remaining space. There is no word yet on whether the new school will retain the original name.