Larger George Marks school planned

Spearheading the project — Above, Volusia County Schools Planning Director Saralee Morrissey and George Marks Principal Dr. Julie Roseboom share a laugh just before the start of a meeting about the planned rebuild of George W. Marks Elementary Jan. 24. Both said they are extremely excited about the project. Roseboom, who has led another Volusia elementary school in the midst of a similar construction project, said she is up for the challenge. 

Spearheading the project — Above, Volusia County Schools Planning Director Saralee Morrissey and George Marks Principal Dr. Julie Roseboom share a laugh just before the start of a meeting about the planned rebuild of George W. Marks Elementary Jan. 24. Both said they are extremely excited about the project. Roseboom, who has led another Volusia elementary school in the midst of a similar construction project, said she is up for the challenge. 

BEACON PHOTO/ERIKA WEBB

​​​​​​​A FUTURE STUDENT? — Prior to the start of a community information meeting Jan. 24, Jack Williams, senior vice president of Harvard Jolly Architecture, Volusa County Schools Planning Director Saralee Morrissey and Shelby Mayeran, holding her infant son Lyle Mayeran, discussed details of the upcoming rebuild of George W. Marks Elementary School in DeLand. Mayeran’s older son, Gavin, 5, attends kindergarten at the school.

A FUTURE STUDENT? — Prior to the start of a community information meeting Jan. 24, Jack Williams, senior vice president of Harvard Jolly Architecture, Volusa County Schools Planning Director Saralee Morrissey and Shelby Mayeran, holding her infant son Lyle Mayeran, discussed details of the upcoming rebuild of George W. Marks Elementary School in DeLand. Mayeran’s older son, Gavin, 5, attends kindergarten at the school.

Interested students — Megan Cloudman with daughters Emily, 11, and Isobel, 8, attended the kickoff meeting for planning the new George W. Marks Elementary School Jan. 24 in the school’s media center. Volusia County Schools Planning Director Saralee Morrissey and a Harvard Jolly Architecture senior vice president answered Megan and Emily Cloudman’s questions about the upcoming project, and provided other details. 

Interested students — Megan Cloudman with daughters Emily, 11, and Isobel, 8, attended the kickoff meeting for planning the new George W. Marks Elementary School Jan. 24 in the school’s media center. Volusia County Schools Planning Director Saralee Morrissey and a Harvard Jolly Architecture senior vice president answered Megan and Emily Cloudman’s questions about the upcoming project, and provided other details. 

A newer, larger George W. Marks Elementary School is coming to DeLand.

The school will stay where it is, between North Garfield and North Amelia avenues, and plans call for most of the construction to take place over the summers of 2019 and 2020, to avoid displacing students.

Before the end of this school year, the community will be able to see the site plan, showing new bus and car loops, buildings that will stay, and new buildings.

Parents, teachers, students and neighbors of the school, built in 1956 and situated on 25 acres, attended a meeting Jan. 24 about the reconstruction.

Volusia County Schools Planning Director Saralee Morrissey and representatives of Florida-based Harvard Jolly Architecture — which designs only schools — were there to answer questions.

Growth made it necessary to replace George Marks; the half-cent sales tax for schools that was extended in 2014 made it possible, Morrissey said.

“This school district has done a very good job of building new schools, and I think that’s why the voters agreed to the half-cent tax,” she said.

George Marks now has just fewer than 600 students. The $24 million rebuild will create 750-850 student stations, according to Rene Tercilla, a senior vice president of Harvard Jolly.

“The 850 is to plan for growth and relieve some overgrowing at Citrus Grove,” Morrissey said.

Changing times will dictate the design. Technology and evolving learning methods require different types of space.

Morrissey has seen the changes in her own children’s progression through elementary, middle and high schools. She’s also toured other counties’ schools to see how they are building for the future of education.

“We’re moving away from projectors toward monitors,” she said.

Comfortable seating for students using tablets and laptops, charging stations in every classroom, and areas for in-school field trips are all on her wish list.

In other schools, Morrissey said, she saw wet areas for science and life-skills labs, for example. In St. Johns County, she saw a group of students preparing a Thanksgiving meal for their peers and students Skyping with a class in Australia.

“It’s a different school than what some of us went to,” Morrissey said.

On the George Marks campus, “new” means a combination of new construction and renovations. The state caps the amount spent and will determine which of the 19 buildings stay.

No buildings at George Marks are old enough to qualify for historic preservation, but some built in the mid-1980s might fall short of functional obsolescence.

“Most buildings will be demolished; there are two or three that we think may remain,” Morrissey said.

“We’re likely going to end up with a ‘mostly new’ school,” Tercilla told attendees. “We want to create spaces, like classrooms, that kids think are cool and want to be in.”

Small, inexpensive touches such as colored film on the windows create a wow factor, he explained.

“We want kids to be excited about paint colors. … Kids are not like we are; they’re very creative,” he added.

Founded in 1938 and with 18 offices in Florida, Harvard Jolly has designed more than 8 million square feet of elementary-school space statewide.

Tercilla promised a focus on cost savings and security, and Morrissey said a portion of the half-cent sales tax revenue is dedicated for technology and security measures, Morrissey said.

Security rings, including a fence around the entire campus, will ensure very limited entry once school is in session. Sprawling campuses are “very comfortable,” Tercilla said, “but they’re not our world anymore.”

Like nearly completed Pierson Elementary School, George Marks could re-emerge as a two-story building with enclosed corridors.

The parent drop-off and pickup loop will be separate from the bus loop and will accommodate 100 cars, Tercilla said.

Parent Heidi Kellogg attended the meeting. Morrissey could not promise Kellogg that her 25-minute wait to pick up her second- and fifth-grader will be reduced.

“That’s not unusual,” Morrissey said. “We see that at a lot of our schools … no matter how long we build the loop.”

“It certainly won’t be that short thing you have right now, that’s causing the problem,” Tercilla said.

Kellogg also asked for a larger cafeteria.

“My fifth-grader eats lunch at 10:30,” she said. Others wait until 1:30.

But, the Florida Department of Education dictates that design aspect.

“In DOE’s mind, they’ve determined the number of square feet per child,” Tercilla said. “The size of the dining area is predicated by the number of kids going to the school.”

By that methodology, the new George Marks will have a larger cafeteria, he said.

But absolutely no gymnasium.

Per “big, bad DOE,” Tercilla said, “we’re not allowed to put gyms in elementary schools … with or without their money.”

Megan Cloudman, whose daughters Isobel and Emily Cloudman are second- and fifth-graders, would like the treed, terraced west side of the campus along Amelia Avenue to be undisturbed.

“We’re going to do everything we can do to avoid knocking trees down,” Tercilla said.

Flatter ground on the Garfield side is more suited for field sports, he explained.

Young Emily Cloudman also has cafeteria concerns. Excessive noise equals a “zero” grade, she said.

“And we’re all talking, normally, so it gets really loud,” she explained.

Sound-absorbing ceiling tiles are a possibility, according to Tercilla.

“We will take that into consideration so you don’t get any more zeros,” he said.

— Erika Webb, erika@beacononlinenews.com


"We’re building a facility that’s going to teach kids for 40 to 50 years … to be adaptable for what comes 20 years from now. … Obviously there’s a lot of history here. We can’t lose that as we transition to a new school.”

— Rene Tercilla, senior vice president of Harvard Jolly Architecture, the firm tapped to design the new George Marks Elementary School in DeLand


Security features planned

  • Cameras
  • A fence around the campus to ensure limited entry during school hours
  • Key-card entry. Only employees will have entry cards; others will be buzzed in from a lobby.
  • A single point of entry, likely through the administrative office. Gates and doors will be locked to outsiders but easily opened from the inside. “You’re controlling who comes in, not who goes out,” school district Planning Director Saralee Morrissey said.
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