Sidney Lanier students get improved facilities


Published: Friday, January 17, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 10:00 p.m.
Students at the Sidney Lanier Center will no longer have to steer their wheelchairs over cumbersome concrete mounds to get into their classrooms or face limited access to bathrooms.
And they will no longer have to play basketball in a converted classroom with a low ceiling that inhibits high-arching shots.
In two weeks, the most profoundly disabled students in Alachua County will play ball in a new gym and learn in 12 new classrooms that are part of a $4.3 million addition at the school on NW 16th Avenue.
The new classrooms are each equipped with large, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, which will bring the school into full compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The new building also will house a full-size cafeteria and kitchen and an occupational and physical therapy room.
"We haven't had arch on our shots in a long time," Sidney Lanier Principal Cathy Costello said after showing off the old and the new. "Our students will now be self-contained. We won't have to get them into coats to go anyplace."
Students and School Board officials will dedicate the new building today at 2 p.m. at the school.
For decades, students at the school have dealt with inadequate access to restrooms, causing some to crawl through confined hallways in some wings to get to the toilet from their wheelchairs. Cracked concrete mounds served as wheelchair ramps into nearly every classroom at the school.
In 1999, a master plan developed by administrators and architects for Sidney Lanier called for overhauling the school's existing facilities.
Two years ago, School Board officials began renovations to bring the school into compliance with the ADA by widening stalls in the group bathrooms in one building.
In two weeks, 120 Sidney Lanier students should move into their new classrooms, which Costello described as state-of-the-art.
"So much thought and effort was put into designing it for the kids' needs," Costello said.
For instance, the walls in the new building retain rounded corners and the floors are embedded with strips of color to help visually impaired students distinguish where walls and doors are located. Hydraulic lifts were installed in every new classroom for students with mobility disabilities, along with height-adjustable tables.
Cathi Carr can be reached at 374-5086 or carrc@gvillesun. com.
FYI: SIDNEY LANIER
  • In two weeks, the most profoundly disabled students in Alachua County will play ball in a new gym and learn in 12 new classrooms that are part of a $4.3 million addition at the school on NW 16th Avenue.
  • Students and School Board officials will dedicate the new building today at 2 p.m. at the school.
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