Construction began this summer on the “new” Galaxy Elementary School in Boynton Beach and the Quantum Foundation has given the project a tremendous boost forward. The Quantum Foundation, Palm Beach County’s largest private foundation, has awarded a $750,000 grant towards the realization of a $2.3 million Capital Campaign. The fundraising is being managed by the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County. The grant specifically focuses on the “Wonderment Center”, a two-story focal point of the school that will include two skills labs and lots of interactive learning to help Galaxy create and maintain exemplary programs in science and math. That goal is consistent with the Quantum Foundation’s mission of improving science and health education countywide for all students.
Quantum Foundation President, Kerry Diaz said, “We are thrilled to help the students get the hands-on learning that will get them excited about science and turn that into better performance in the classroom. Research shows us that getting kids into science at this age helps them maintain an interest throughout their entire education.”
“The significance of The Quantum Foundation’s investment in education in this community at this time cannot be overstated. In the current environment of budget reductions, there is no way we could have aspired to LEED Platinum Certification for Galaxy Elementary without their most generous assistance. It gives us a great start toward the $2.3 million needed, and we are very grateful,” said Bill Malone, Superintendent, School District of Palm Beach County.
This exciting project started in 2009 when the School District heard the community’s plea to save Galaxy Elementary, a 52 year old school that was slated for demolition. The School District’s application for a Federal low-interest loan was awarded and the plan was initiated to replace the aging buildings with a new 109,000 sq. ft. school, and an existing Boynton Beach park with a new neighborhood park. This state-of-art campus will be the district’s 8th green school, and is the first public school in Florida to register for LEED® Platinum certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is the nation’s largest green building certification program. The School District has a “pay it forward” attitude to constructing green schools as they bring long term operating cost savings, become more effective teaching tools, and provide connections with the surrounding businesses and cultural resources. The completion of Galaxy Elementary School is considered an important part of the economic revitalization of Boynton Beach, according to community leaders.
“Our community is so excited to have this exemplary LEED school, which is in line with the city’s recent implementation of our Climate Action Plan. All the hard work was well worth it. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg for our kids and the community. This is really exciting.” said Mayor Jose Rodriguez, Boynton Beach.
While continuing to serve families from the immediate neighborhood, Galaxy Elementary is designed to become an E3 “Choice” or magnet school for Energy, Environment, and Engineering. The school will offer the K-5th graders enhanced programs targeting improved performance in science and math that will be critical skills required in the workplace in the coming decades.
The replacement school was funded with approximately $20,200,000 in a low interest federal loan. The project’s $2.3 million goal for additional funding targets donors, grants and technology partnerships to augment the existing budget, and ensure that energy and environmental features become an integral part of the school’s curriculum, in addition to the enhanced operational cost savings. A group of community leaders, the Galaxy All-Stars, has formed to lead the project’s fundraising success. The Galaxy project has its own website, www.galaxygreen.org, which provides additional contact information and the ability to contribute online to the project.
One of the most exciting features of the new Galaxy Elementary School Campus is the highly anticipated Wonderment Center. This is a two-story educational space with two skills labs on each floor. This is a campus focal point that will feature interpretive, interactive, multi-age work stations, and resemble a small science museum. Sensory-based science and nature exhibits will be suspended overhead, wall mounted, and incorporated in the flooring and ceilings. The Wonderment Center will be directly accessible from the courtyard, the dining/multipurpose room and the science skills labs.
Other features of the campus are planned but not yet funded, including the enhancement of an existing five acre Gopher Tortoise Preserve nature trails and interpretive signage; and the conversion of two existing buildings to a community-based environmentally-themed visitor’s center, where the area’s public and private schools will be able to tour additional hands-on educational displays when they visit the green school campus. The school is scheduled to open with 500 students, and with the build-out of one floor of one classroom wing’s shell space, student population would go to approximately 650. Space has been reserved on the site for a future addition that would take the student population to 960, for which the core spaces have been designed.
The team led by Zyscovich Architects designed the green showcase campus and Pirtle Construction will oversee all aspects of the construction. (This is the same team that was responsible for Florida’s first LEED® Gold school, Pine Jog Elementary.) The campus green design and construction features of the school include: Native landscape throughout; Hydroponic teaching gardens; Bio-swales with landscape for storm water management; High-efficiency air conditioning system using ice produced off-peak hours for cooling; Upgraded A/C filtration for improved interior air quality; Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Hot Water panels for significant power contribution; Demonstration use of wind power – helical wind turbines; Monitoring of school’s energy and water use in real time online; Optimal use of natural daylight to reduce lighting loads; High-efficiency lighting fixtures and lighting controls; The use of municipal reclaimed water and rainwater harvested to large cisterns for irrigation; Recycled construction waste – diverting 75% from landfill; Green roof area and white reflective roofs; Non-toxic, durable and recycled content materials; plus many more initiatives.
“Its location right off of I-95 and Boynton Beach Boulevard will make it visible to thousands of people everyday who will see the turning wind turbines, solar panels and a green roof. Hopefully the school will inspire not only the children that attend the school, but it will uplift the neighborhood, and encourage everyone that drives by to think about the how they can help protect and preserve this fragile planet,” said Joseph Sanches, Chief of Division of Support Operations, School District of Palm Beach County.
For more information please contact Mary Kay Murray, Executive Director, Education Foundation of Palm Beach County at 561-357-7659 or firstname.lastname@example.org .