Originally published in The Weekly Packet, September 9, 2021
Bay School to add three new classrooms for early childhood programs
by Jeffrey B. Roth
The Bay School is adding three new classrooms to its campus.
Eastablished in 1980, the private Waldorf Independent school’s 70-acre campus is on South Street. Marcia Diamond, head of school, said the program offers PreK through eighth grade. The PreK program accepts children beginning at age 3.
“We had this tremendous increase in interest in our early childhood program,” Diamond said. “I think it’s fairly true that there’s just not a lot of high quality options for families, where both parents are working. They need not only a good quality childcare program, but they know it’s imperative for them to be able to work. Very often, children who go through our early childhood programs continue on through our grades program. So turning people away at that point is not our best strategy.”
Initial plans called for the construction of an early childhood center, Diamond said. While working with local architect Bruce Stahnke of Stahnke & Kitagawa Architects, Brooksville, on the building design, school officials learned that a wetland study would be required.
“We knew that we were going to have to be really careful about where we placed the building,” Diamond said. “What we did instead, because all of that takes some time, and again, making sure we’re doing the right thing, we decided to instead start with what we would have called phase two, which is a classroom village of three classrooms.”
Instead of constructing classrooms on the site of the former 30-foot yurt, which had been used as a classroom for 16 years, school administrators decided to move the early childhood program into Emlen Hall until they can move into the new classroom village by midwinter, Diamond said. That provided the extra classroom space needed for the early childhood programs.
“We now have three early childhood classrooms,”Diamond said. “One will be for our parents and infants and our one-and-a-half to three-year-old program, which we call our Morning Garden, where parents come with the children in one classroom. We have a second classroom for the three- and four-year-olds. Then, we have a third classroom that is just for our kindergarteners.”
Diamond said the ground has been cleared. Foundation work will begin after the “footings’ boring reports” are received “to determine what the rebar requirements are for the right supports for the building.” What was originally planned as phase two has “now become the new phase one,” Diamond added.
“As we move through that project, we still intend to do the early childhood classroom as part of a master plan,” Diamond said. “It’s going to be about a year or so before we can get that ready to use. We are working on a capital campaign that will help us fund both phase one and two. We’ll have more information coming out about that soon. It was one of those situations where we couldn’t wait.”
Diamond said an additional early childhood teacher has been hired as part of the expansion of the program. Additional staff will be added as needed.
“We’re also adding an after-school program that will run until 5 p.m.,” Diamond said. “In the past, we generally had dismissal at 2:45 p.m., and some after-school sports.”