Hawthorne's courtyard would give way to new classrooms, gym

The Community Facilities Advisory Committe for Hastings Public Schools is proposing eliminating the front and interior courtyards at Hawthorne Elementary School to make way for a new office and entrance, two new classrooms and a gymnasium. Five additional classrooms would be built to the east of the existing building.

Hawthorne Elementary would lose its courtyards and gain a separate gymnasium and new classrooms under a proposal to improve the elementary system at Hastings Public Schools.

In October, Superintendent Craig Kautz revealed the recommendations for the future of the elementary buildings as proposed by a Community Facilities Advisory Committee.

Under the committee’s proposal, the Hawthorne, Lincoln and Watson elementary buildings would be expanded, while Alcott and Longfellow both would be expanded and renovated.

Meanwhile, Morton Elementary would be closed with the option of turning it into a preschool hub for the district. If it is closed, students in the Morton attendance area would go to school at Watson Elementary and possibly Hawthorne.

Under the proposal, Hawthorne Elementary would receive about $2.2 million in upgrades and changes.

“Hawthorne’s a unique building,” Kautz said. “In some ways, it has a lot of wasted space although Hawthorne does have a character to it.”

As part of the upgrades, the front courtyard that leads to the building’s entrance would be eliminated to allow for the construction of a new office and new entrance.

The building’s interior courtyard also would be eliminated in order for two new classrooms and a gymnasium to be built.

“There’s a little angst over that because if you’ve seen the courtyard, it’s gorgeous,” Kautz said. “But, by doing that, you’re trying to get the cafeteria space.”

The current shared cafeteria/gymnasium space would become a dedicated cafeteria with the courtyard space being captured for a new gymnasium.

Five additional classrooms, including three new kindergarten classrooms, would be built to the east of the building.

The additional classrooms would help bring Hawthorne up from a 2.5-section to a three-section elementary. Currently, there is only one grade with three sections.

While the two courtyards would be eliminated, the current plan includes a new porch area in front of the proposed entrance.

The existing classrooms and other spaces would see no changes under this plan.

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