By Pat Maurer
Superintendent Jim Walter said in his Superintendent’s Corner column this week, “Over the past few months, we’ve begun exploring in earnest the physical needs of the District for the next several decades. The major emphasis has been considering a bond project that may include replacing the current middle school (100 years old) with a new middle or high school. Board members are engaged with architects to consider some initial concepts, and internally, we’ve been working with staff & community members to consider the needs of students and teachers for any new spaces.”
In his report to the board January 17, Walter outlined the progress on the potential bond proposal coming up for Clare Schools.
He explained in an email Wednesday, “The Board is in the very early stages of considering the District’s future facility needs, and most importantly, their impact on student learning. Currently, the timeline is projecting a May 2023 vote, but the Board is still gathering information from architects, construction managers, and more while considering the long-term needs of our District. The proposed timeline will provide for several opportunities for input from the community over the next year.”
In his report to the board, Walter said, “Our first meeting this year with Tower Pinkster (Bond Architects) took place January 13th. The meeting included a review of the ‘Think Tank’ observations, key elements of the bond planning development process (reimagining/modernizing learning from a 100-year-old building for student safety & security, flexible learning spaces and the reasonableness of a millage increase), and exploring potential major projects…along with the funding implications of a millage increase and what can be generated.”
The Bond Think Tank, which includes 17 individuals representing the community, parents, students and educators meeting three times and making four site visits to consider the future of “education in our community,” the purpose of our ‘spaces,’ some research about learning and new ideas, listed things to think about including size and space for learning; and the furnishings and layout; and the budget, which the board must determine.
Pictures of the classrooms, some crowded spaces and other problems with the current facilities were included in the presentation, while the group reflected on the suprising condition of the middle school, and the openness of spaces, including mechanical , for learning. Ideas that came up were mobile/portable desks and flexible comfortable seating; collaborative, flexible learning spaces that center on the student rather than the teacher.
The needed improvements center around a new building which could house either a high school or a middle school, with questions to be answered on what to do with the Middle School, which houses the beautiful auditorium and depression murals which are permanently attached and owned by the federal government.