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An inside look

Parents who will send their children to Austin Meehan Middle School instead of Mayfair Elementary were able to view progress of the renovations.

School bells ring: Concerned parents were able to tour Austin Meehan Middle School on July 27. Major renovations include converting the school’s old library into classrooms on the second floor and redoing classrooms on the first floor. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

Parents concerned about sending their kindergarten and first-grade students to Austin Meehan Middle School instead of Mayfair Elementary were offered the chance to tour the middle school that is being renovated to accommodate the younger students.

The July 27 tour was the second tour offered. Parents requested to view progress of the renovations being made after the first tour.

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When the Philadelphia Board of Education stopped at Lawncrest Library in May to hear concerns from parents and citizens, one major issue expressed was that the building was created for middle school students. Austin Meehan houses seventh-and eighth-graders.

Construction, which began in May, was still largely under progress. Major renovations include converting the school’s old library into classrooms on the second floor and redoing classrooms on the first floor. Construction will be complete before the school year commences. Bathrooms were added to kindergarten classrooms and new bathrooms were placed for first-grade students.

Students who are moved to the building are still enrolled in Mayfair Elementary, said Principal Guy Lowery. That means all students are still enrolled in the school’s International Baccalaureate program. Mayfair is the first and only elementary school in the state to enroll its entire student body in an IB program.

“In terms of having space for our kids, I appreciate the extensive work the district has done in making sure the space is appropriate for kids,” Lowery said. “They’re good for our kindergarten and first-graders.”

According to Lowery, about 1,900 kids are enrolled in Mayfair. Approximately 400 students, or 13 classes, will be moved to the school.

“This is a solution that we can offer spaces for our kids so our kids can have room and technology,” he said.

Parents were offered the chance to view the new facilities firsthand, though the classrooms remained empty and largely unfinished at this time.

There will be two different entrances to the elementary school. Students enter a different way than the middle school students. The students will be mostly separated during the day.

Other renovations include a new camera security system and adding smart technology to every classroom, including access to Google Chromebooks. Repairs are being made to the HVAC system and ceilings in some classrooms. Parents had previously expressed concern about water stains in some of the classrooms, and officials said corrective means were in the process of being implemented.

“The work will be done before your kids come because it has to be,” said Hanniyah Sharpe-Brown of the school district.

Two officers at the building will be assigned to just Mayfair kids. That is the same number of officers at the main Mayfair building.

Students in the building will have access to art, foreign language, computer science and physical education classes. There will not be a music classroom in the building. Lowery said the district is working to assign an official who can offer support to non-English speakers.

Lowery, a former teacher and assistant principal at Austin Meehan, expressed approval for the renovations.

“Just to see my former school transformed to this degree is unbelievable,” he said.

An orientation is planned for Aug. 24, the Friday before the school year begins. Parents requested one final walk-through of the building before the orientation. ••

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