When Salem Elementary opens in August, it will be the 13th site in the Murfreesboro City Schools district and will have space for up to 1,000 students.

The Murfreesboro City Council recently said the school, which broke ground only last July, will cost about $40 million, including the price for the acquisition of 25 acres.

A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for July 28 at 2 p.m., MCS Director Of Communications Lisa Trail said.

The school, on the corner of St. Andrews Drive and Veterans Parkway, is still under construction.

Members of the City Council and MCS School Board, along with other officials, toured Salem on Friday, May 10 with Principal Trey Duke and architect Jim Pettit of Johnson + Bailey Architects PC.

Borrowing Overall Creek’s design

The school, once nicknamed Southwest Elementary, is based largely on the design of MCS’ most recent school, Overall Creek Elementary, which has two levels, Duke said. One noticeable difference is that Overall Creek has more open space in the main entrance “hub.” Some of that area has been filled in at Salem because fire code requirements are more expensive for that open design, Pettit said. In addition to saving money, the changed design gives Salem four extra rooms in that section of the building.

The main vehicle entrance will be off Veterans Parkway, and there will be space for nearly 100 cars to “stack” while waiting to pick up students, officials said.

“There will be no issues with car riders stacking up on Veterans,” Duke said.

Thoughtful layout

Salem uses LED lights, a lot of natural lighting and a lot of storage space, Duke said.

Another advantage of the design is that high-traffic areas like the office, cafeteria, library and gym are centrally located near the entrance hub, which is also near the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms, Duke said.

“If you’re a kindergartner, you never go upstairs,” Duke said. “Compared to schools where there’s one floor and it’s all spread out, parents worry, ‘Oh, my kids will get lost in this big school.’ I say, ‘when you get in here, you see this two-story design … it feels a lot smaller than it actually is.’ ”

The gym’s bleachers, which had not been installed at the time of the tour, will seat 693, Duke said. The floor will have room for 600 additional seats for overflow capacity during events like plays, which will take place in an auditorium in the gym. The gym will have curtains that can divide the room for the Extended School Program (ESP).

“So, it gives you a lot of space to play with,” Duke said.

Classroom features

Classrooms will be equipped with features to enhance learning for students of all abilities.

One wing, called the “support wing,” will house art and “a few” regular-education classrooms, plus special-education classrooms, Duke said. There will be two “comprehensive-education” classrooms for the most at-risk students, such as those who are wheelchair-bound or have other disabilities that require special attention.

Comprehensive Development Classrooms (CDCs) will have full bathrooms with showers, Duke said. A “cubby room” with lockers and an individual bathroom will be located in between clusters of two classrooms.

Salem’s curriculum will feature STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, according to the MCS website. A Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) is forming up; email salemsaintspto@gmail.com for more information.

Salem’s mascot will be a Saint Bernard, and the school’s nickname is the Saints, according to the school’s website at salemelementary.net. The school colors are navy blue, Carolina blue and golden tan.

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