Tinley Park school gets a little roomier
By Mike Nolan email@example.com September 4, 2014 9:00PM
Memorial School art teacher Carol Friel, left, and music teacher Joanne Moan talk in Friel's new art classroom, made possible by an expansion project at the Tinley Park school that was formally dedicated Thursday. | Mike Nolan/Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 6, 2014 6:23AM
Joanne Moan is relieved that her days of being a “cart expert” are behind her.
The music teacher at Tinley Park’s Memorial School would have to load up a cart with instruments and set up for instruction wherever there was a free classroom in the building.
“It involved a lot of planning ahead,” Moan said.
Now, she has a music instruction room, part of an expansion at the school that was finished before the start of the school year and unveiled to parents during an open house Thursday.
Four classrooms were added at the school, 6701 W. 179th St., while two others were renovated and the media center was expanded and remodeled. The project also provided offices for specialists in math, reading and other areas, Principal Mike Donovan said.
An increase in enrollment and a desire to keep class sizes small had meant using every available classroom and had dislocated Moan and art teacher Carol Friel from their regular classrooms. Friel, like Moan, also had her “art on a cart,” toting teaching supplies between classrooms.
Moan said trying to do music instruction in a classroom, even if desks were pushed aside, was a challenge.
“There wasn’t always enough space for our movement-based activities” combining music and dance, she said, noting that the new music room is larger than a typical classroom.
One of the new classrooms is devoted to an early learning program, another is for kindergarten and the other two are for first-grade students, Donovan said.
Befoe Thursday’s event, where School District 146 officials cut a ribbon to mark the addition’s formal opening, school board president John Malloy said the expansion of Memorial was long overdue. He said schools are the “centers of our communities” and “because of their importance, they should look the part.”
District 146 Supt. Jeff Stawick said the project was completed without a bond issue or a property tax increase to pay for it. The $2.7 million project was aided by $500,000 in federal stimulus money.
Carrying the project over three annual budgets enabled the district to finance it with available cash, Stawick said.
Stawick said enrollment levels at the district’s five schools had not varied much from year to year, but that in the last couple of years there have been “modest” increases, particularly at Memorial and Fulton schools.
Donovan said Memorial was “overcrowded” and needed not only more classrooms but more office space for faculty and staff. Having construction proceeding while school was in session presented “a few challenges,” he said, but “overall, it’s totally worth it.”