Greenbriar School new addition gets public intro
A new parking lot is installed at Greenbriar School in Northbrook. Photo taken on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, at the school in Northbrook. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 7, 2012 11:07AM
Northbrook School District 28 welcomes all Northbrook residents to a grand opening celebration Aug. 23 of the new gymnasium at Greenbriar School built in a partnership with the Northbrook Park District
The event, sponsored by District 28 and the Park District and running from 6 to 8 p.m., will officially present the new addition and the remodeled spaces in the school at 1225 Greenbriar Lane that have resulted from the districts’ partnership.
The get-together also will feature a 6:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting by Greenbriar students, as well as tours, games, contests, music, refreshments and giveaways in the school’s new community gymnasium.
Construction crews worked all summer to have the project completed before the first day of school, Aug. 21.
The workers have been focusing on ventilation, plumbing and carpentry, as well as other interior work, in the west wing of the building during the final phase of the three-phase project. And a $435,880 grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency paid 75 percent, or $326,910, for a “green roof” over the front of the single story section of the school building and permeable pavers for the parking lot, which will help reduce flooding.
The roof, which is made using vegetation, as well as the pavers, also will be used to teach ecology practices, Hewitt said.
The school district paid only 25 percent of the cost, $108,970, definitely “a win” for Northbrook residents, said School District 28 Superintendent Larry Hewitt.
The east wing was finished during Phase One last year at this time, he added.
The new addition, which was completed last January during Phase Two, houses the community gymnasium, new small-group instruction space, extended kindergarten care rooms, and a secure front entry.
“We did a comprehensive study of the Greenbriar site and part of the challenge was our growing enrollment,” Hewitt said.
“We were having trouble getting kids into proper classroom space. We had kids meeting in closet areas or hallways with small group leaders, like a reading specialist or social worker.”
That began a process of studying the school to figure out the best way to improve it that was comprehensive, he added.
the school district didn’t want to work on a little project every year for the next several years. so officials asked the park district if it wanted to partner in building a community gymnasium at the school.
Now the school district uses it from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the school year, then the park district uses it in the evenings and on weekends, as well as during the summer. And the districts share the expenses.
“We were able to do a bigger facility using joint dollars. The gym is about twice as big as it would otherwise have been had the park district not participated with us. And the park district is as happy with it as we are,” Hewitt.
The addition of small meeting spaces allowed the area that was used before to return to classroom use. The multi-purpose room now may be can used for other than gym functions, such a book fair.
“We really didn’t have a gymnasium in the school. We had a multi-purpose space the size of two and a half classrooms. It was so small we couldn’t fit the entire student body in it for an all-school assembly,” Hewit said.
That posed a real problem with 374 students — the highest number in the school’s history — registered this year. The numbers have been in the the 360s for the last five years. Before that, the average was about 320, he added.
A new front entry with a new office area, a teachers work room a principal’s office, and a conference room also were added.
“We also didn’t have a ‘21st century’ secure office. When someone was buzzed into the school, the person didn’t walk directly into the office. He had to walk down a little bit to get to it, so the whole school was accessible. This was a safety issue,” Hewitt said.
Also added was space for a fee-based, kindergarten daycare program that was requested by residents, which is available to students at all the district schools
And there will be space for a Spanish program that was extended from the fifth through the eight grades to the first through the fourth grades.
“We’re very pleased with the project. It’s functional, does what we want it to do in terms of teaching and education, and it looks nice. In fact, it’s an exquisite looking building now.”
Maureen Wimbiscus, the parent of two children who have attended Greenbriar, said the renovation and addition were necessary because of the space limnitations.
“For the kids now and in the future, adding the space and the improvements were the right thing to do.”