BY ANDREAS BUTLER
A school in Daytona Beach’s Black community soon will be given a facelift.
The Volusia County School District plans to renovate Westside Elementary located at 1210 Jimmy Ann Drive.
“It’s been long overdue. A renovated Westside will be a great addition to our community. Someone also donated 15 acres of land to the school and this provides us with enough land where we now have ample space to redo the school entirely if we chose,” said School Board Member Ida Duncan Wright.
Right now everything is in a planning phase.
“We are in an early stage of design. We’re kind of moving to a programming phase. We are working out specifications and the concept plan layout proceedings,” stated Saralee Morrissey, the school district’s director for planning.
Growth has facilitated the need to make the school larger.
“Westside is definitely a community school. We are still in the planning stages. We need to be able to accommodate our growing populations. Major renovations are needed. Renovations will definitely benefit students and staff,” commented Principal Willie Williams.
Westside has 630 students but is designed for a capacity of 550 kids. The goal is to be able to accommodate 750 students.
“The school is actually in good shape physically, but we are seeing increases in enrollment there.
The need for renovation is to make it bigger to accommodate growth,” Morrissey noted.
Sixty-six percent of the students attending Westside are African-American, 19 percent are White, 7 percent are listed as multi-racial, and 6½ percent are Hispanic. The rest are Asian or Pacific Islander.
Westside was built in 1966 to meet the needs of the growing population of Daytona’s Westside, according to the district’s website, myvolusiaschools.org.
The original school had eight classrooms, an administration suite and a library. The school also had central air conditioning.
In 1968, eight more classrooms along with a cafeteria and new library were built while the old library was converted into the art and music rooms.
In 1970, another 10 classrooms and a new administrative wing were built.
The school’s colors are blue and white and the mascot is the Eagle.
Parents are open to the renovation.
Lavonda Walker is the mother of Alanna Nelson, a second grader at Westside.
Walker told the Daytona Times, “I think it will be excellent. Former Principal Dr. Judy Wynch pushed for renovations and she did a lot to bring money into the school. Mr. Williams is now doing a great job.
“Renovating the school is good for the community. We need a state-of-the art school here.
Renovating shows that we are investing in our future, which is our children. I would definitely attend meetings about information and parent input,” Walker added.
Kareathia Gibson has four children attending Westside.
“I think it is wonderful that they will renovate and make the school bigger. It’s welcomed, especially in regards to them doing something with the parent pickup loop, which is currently terrible,’’ Gibson remarked.
The total cost of renovation is estimated at $15 million and expected to take about 36 months to complete. The start for date has yet to be determined.
The first phase will be adding new classrooms and the second phase will be the construction of a new cafeteria.
“We also want to make sure the cafeteria can fully accommodate its function and the school’s activities,” Morrissey shared.
The third and final phase will be renovation of the parking areas as well as areas for bus pick up and drop off as well as the loop where parents pick up and drop off their kids.
“These renovations will improve the school and also be a benefit to our parents, especially in terms of parking and our parent pick-up loop. Our hope is that all phases are done by 2020,” Williams related.
Morrissey added, “We are going to increase parking and relocate the driveway for and make parent pick up drop off loop larger.”
The school will remain open during the renovation period.
“We will be renovating while the school is still up and operational. It’s challenging, but we have done it before. We did it when we re-did Mainland High School and when we renovated Ormond Middle School,” Morrissey explained.
“We must get up security measures and safety measures to keep construction actually separate from school operations,’’ she added.
Williams echoed, “It is going to be challenging. We just ask for parents to be patient during renovations. We will have meetings with a lot of information for them leading up to the renovations.”