Task force against relocating grade school
By Bert Lehman
Those in the Clintonville School District will be asked this fall what they want done with the elementary school.
The Clintonville School Board was informed at its June 13 meeting that two of the proposals that will appear on a survey include building a new elementary school at the current site, or remodeling the current elementary school buildings. That was the consensus the Elementary Facilities Task Force reached.
School Board member Ben Huber, who was also part of the task force, told the board costs were also provided for the options.
“The costs are a little jaw dropping,” Huber said, “They’re close to $20 million for the cheap ones.”
School Board President Jim Dins asked how a new building could be built on the current site.
Huber said if a new building is built, it would be built where the parking lot is now, and a parking lot would be built where the current building is.
Dins asked if there was any consideration to placing a new building where Dellwood Early Learning Center is located.
“The committee almost unanimously chose Longfellow as the option,” Huber said.
Huber added that 8-9 different options were discussed, including expanding Dellwood to 4K and kindergarten.
“Basically all of them went with mothballing Dellwood instead because the costs for renovation and adding a few classrooms seemed prohibitive,” Huber said. “And nobody wanted to immediately tear Dellwood down to build a new one.”
He added, “Each individual option was gone through and those were the options that they feel are best options for the district and we ought to survey the people to see what the people say.”
Clintonville School District Superintendent Tom O’Toole told the board that board members and members of the administration did not vote on the options, only community members voted.
“The committee had five meetings and received a lot of information and talked about a lot of different solutions,” O’ Toole said.
O’ Toole said a survey will be sent to the community in the fall to see what the community wants. He said the survey is being worked on now, and there will be a joint meeting between the school board and the task force on Aug. 11. The task force will then meet on Sept. 7.
“It’s been a very interesting process working to a consensus,” O’ Toole said.
The board was presented information about adding more surveillance cameras to the Clintonville High School and Clintonville Middle School.
The board was told up to four companies are submitting bids.
The current camera surveillance system was installed 12 years ago.
“We’ve needed to do some upgrades,” O’ Toole said. “It’s done what it’s intended to do but technology has changed a lot in the last dozen years.”
In a presentation to the board, Clintonville Middle School Associate Principal Jeff See told the board there are too many dead spots in the buildings that the current cameras don’t show.
He said there are times when an incident takes place in an area not covered by a camera, and then school staff has to piece together what happened. He said a lot of cameras are pointed at building entrances. This is helpful to know who is entering the building, but once someone is in the building there aren’t enough cameras to know where they have gone.
“This is about students and safety,” See said.
The current system is also an analog system, which has its limitations.
“What’s there did what it was designed to do,” See said. “We’re just in a spot where we need to be able to do some different things with it.”
He added that the current software is also outdated.
See said more surveillance cameras would help protect the school district and the district’s staff. He cited the example from the Manawa School District when a teacher was caught on camera improperly handling a student with autism.
“Because that was caught on video, the school district was able to help the police department,” See said.
Currently the parking lots are not monitored by surveillance cameras, See said.
He said a middle school teacher had two tires on his car slashed on the last day of school this year. Even though he said the school has an idea of which student did it, it can’t be verified because it was not caught on camera.
Clintonville High School Principal Lance Bagstad added that there is an entire corridor and two stairwells not monitored by surveillance cameras.
“I think we’re in a spot right now where there are some potential liability issues,” Bagstad said.
Clintonville Middle School Principal Scott Werfal cited an example in which a student claimed he was being bullied and put in a locker for an entire class period. It turned out the student went into the locker by himself and shut the door and remained there for the whole class period.
“If we had video on something like that, that’s very easy to clean up,” Werfal said. “Because we didn’t, it was a lot of hours interviewing people and talking to teachers to see what actually happened.”
O’ Toole said updating and adding more surveillance cameras won’t be an inexpensive solution, and it will paid for with fund balance. He said once final bids are secured, the board will have the right to reject bids.
“It is something we think would be a benefit to staff and secure the entire community,” O’ Toole said.
Dins asked about cameras in the elementary school.
O’ Toole said with the uncertainty about the future of the elementary school building, it didn’t make financial sense to add more cameras there.
Dins asked what it would cost to install updated surveillance cameras and more cameras.
See said one vendor had an estimate of $105,000. That included both middle school and high school. He added that the most it would be is $135,000.
Dins said he thought it was great to add more cameras to the trouble areas of the schools, but didn’t know it if was worth $135,000.
Huber pointed out that this is only for cameras outside of classrooms.