March 2, 2017 -- Plans are underway for the district’s upcoming capital project, with groundbreaking set for early June. Because so much of the high school building requires renovation, the district must relocate students during the 23-month construction period. As many of you know, a scenario was in the works last year, before bids came in over budget and the project was put on hold. Once the district received approval to go forward with the work, administration began to re-examine the original relocation plan and discovered serious issues with the feasibility of implementing it. That led to a second relocation plan option.
Over the past several weeks, Superintendent of Schools Michelle Brantner has been working with the administrative team, as well as a steering committee made up of staff, parents and students, to examine both options. The goal has been to gather enough information to help district leaders make an informed decision about the best option moving forward. Prior to beginning the examination process, the Board of Education also re-examined priorities for the move. The top priority remains keeping all students on one campus.
The options are as follows:
In an effort to help students and parents better understand both options, we have prepared the following Q & A, highlighting some of the most frequently asked questions. In addition, we will hold a community forum at 6 p.m. March 8 in the high school auditorium to review the plans and also answer any questions people still might have. A final recommendation will be made to the Board of Education at its March 20 meeting.
- Option 1: Juniors and seniors remain at the high school; fourth-graders move to KCH; all other students are located at DMS.
- Option 2: Seventh- and eighth-graders are relocated to the high school; students in grades nine through 12 are relocated to DMS; fourth-graders move to KCH; fifth- and sixth-graders remain at DMS
Q: What are the problems with Option 1? Juniors and seniors were looking forward to staying at the high school.
A: With the high school split, many students would have to shuttle between DMS and the high school for classes. Hardest hit would be accelerated students and students in music programs. Shuttling trials were done, and we struggled to make the transfer happen within 8 minutes. Adding 8 minutes between classes would create a lot of dead time during the day for all students in grades 7-12, as they will all be on the same schedule. In addition, expanding the time between classes would extend the school day. Students in grades 7-12 would not be released until approximately 2:45 p.m., eliminating the opportunity to have activity and extra help periods. In addition, releasing 7-12 students at 2:45 p.m. makes it impossible for district buses to return in time to pick up K-6 students at 3:20 p.m.
Q: Where will the all-school show be held while the high school is under construction?
A: The all-school show will still take place at the high school because the auditorium is not being affected in the construction.
Q: Where will high school sports events take place during the construction?
A: High school athletes will continue to have practices and contests in their regular locations at the high school. In the summer and fall of 2018, there will be major renovations occurring in the high school locker rooms, and we will need to relocate changing areas for fall athletes at that time. We have targeted a completion date of mid-October 2018 for the locker rooms to ensure winter sports will not be disrupted. In addition, students in the high school building during the fall of 2018 will either need alternate PE changing facilities or will be doing activities at the beginning of that school year that can be done without changing required.
Q: Will fourth-grade students be part of KCH or part of DMS?
A: It makes sense for this two-year period for fourth-graders to become part of KCH. We will still have beginning band rehearse before school at DMS, because that building has a more appropriate facility for this use.
Q: Who will be principal if seventh- and eighth-graders move to SHS?
A: Both Ms.Janet O’Mara and Mrs. Jean Sharlow will continue to be the principal and assistant principal for DMS, respectively. Under scenario 2, they will split their time between the high school and DMS.
Q: What cell phone policy will be in effect if high school students go to DMS?
A: High school students will still enjoy the same privileges they currently have as students at the high school, regardless of the building they occupy.
Q: What teachers will students have?
A: Teachers will move with their current grades. Therefore, high school students will still have high school teachers and DMS students will still have DMS teachers.
Q: Will there still be intramurals?
A: Under option 2, it is our hope that we will still be able to run intramurals at both the high school and DMS. We are currently working on some scheduling issues at DMS and, once that is complete, we will have a more definitive answer. Under option 1, with the elimination of the activity period, the continuation of intramurals would be challenging, as the gym space is needed at 3 p.m. for athletic team practices.
Q: Under option 2, where will SHS students who drive park?
A: While we are still working out parking plans for the district, we believe we will be creating a temporary lot between the high school and KCH. We would like to use that lot for student parking because it is closer to DMS and does not necessitate students crossing the road to get to the building.
Q: Will 9-12 students have the same lunch foods they now have at the high school?
A: In either scenario, our cafeteria staff will be able to continue with the new lunch program for high school students.
Q: Are there concerns regarding commingling of fifth- and sixth-grade students with students in grades 9-12?
A: We currently are able to successfully separate our younger students at DMS from our seventh- and eighth-graders. We see no issue with doing the same when high school students are relocated to DMS under either scenario. It is our hope that we will have new opportunities for mentoring and classroom buddies as a result f this relocation in either scenario.
Q: Will graduation still occur in the high school auditorium?
A: Yes. Under either scenario, we will still hold our graduation ceremony in the high school auditorium.
Q: Will student support services (guidance, nursing, social services) move with the students?
A: Yes. We do believe that Mrs. Lorraine Reynolds will also spend some time at KCH to assist in supporting the needs of our fourth-graders.
Q: How will elective programs like art and music be affected?
A: The capital project will not impact the ability of the senior high school to offer courses. However, there are natural events that occur in the scheduling process such as course conflicts and low enrollment that will inform the decision to run certain courses.
Q: Will school resource officers still be present in all buildings?
A: Yes, We will still have resource officers in each of the three buildings.
If you have additional questions that are not addressed here, please feel free to send them to Superintendent Brantner via email at email@example.com.