Clintonville’s new schools open
Referendum’s phase one completed
By Bert Lehman
When Clintonville embarks on its 2022-23 school year, middle and high school students and teachers will have to adjust to new surroundings.
Middle school students will now attend school in the recently completed middle school expansion onto the high school building.
Superintendent Troy Kuhn told the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette that the construction project is on schedule and will not impact the start of the school year.
“There’s a couple of things that I would say are on backorder, whether it be a door handle or a desk,” Kuhn said. “Some of those things are out of your control, but for the most part, yeah, we’re ready to rock and roll.”
He added, “Part of the final month and a half was me walking around with the general contractor and the subcontractor and going through anything that I wasn’t privy of, or I thought was out of sort. Sometimes it had to be fixed. Most of the time it was we had to make this decision as things were happening and I just want to know why things were the way it was.”
Kuhn admitted that about a month ago he was in “panic mode” and expressed concern to the school board about some of the quality of work that was being done in the construction. He said contractors have taken care of those items of concern.
“I’m very satisfied with it (construction),” Kuhn said. “The overall project is exactly how it was on paper.”
There are a few items that won’t be completed by the time students report to class, but those items won’t impact the education students get.
“There are a couple spots where we decided to plant grass versus lay sod, so there’s some green space areas that we can’t use for another year, but that’s all part of the process,” Kuhn said.
Since the construction project came in “slightly” under budget, Kuhn said it allowed the district to pave all the parking lots, not just the new parking lots. It also allowed the district to reroof the entire building, including the high school and Rec Center.
“Now that can be taken off of our maintenance budget that was supposed to be done in the next five to seven years,” he said.
Since teachers moved into their rooms, Kuhn said he has received positive feedback from them regarding the new middle school expansion. He said teachers like the open space, but are a little apprehensive about how large the building is.
Since middle school and high school students will be sharing some common areas students will be traveling from one side of the building to the other side.
“I think that’s going to be a learning curve for the students on how quickly they need to plan to get from one class to another,” Kuhn said.
He added that teachers are still working out plans on how to efficiently use the open spaces in the building so they are not a distraction to students.
Kuhn said the construction project will allow the district to “expand to consolidate.”
“We’re hoping that the new curriculum and new spaces draw kids into our district,” he said.
Even if the district’s enrollment plateaus or declines, Kuhn said having the middle school and high school share many spaces means the district will not have to spend money on spaces that overlap in functionality.
“We don’t need two of everything. We don’t need two kitchens, two cafeterias. We don’t need two industrial arts spaces because those add up in money really, really fast,” Kuhn said. “We’re looking long term on how we can not only offer curriculum that is for (students in grades) 6-12 and build upon the curriculum, but also be fiscally responsible knowing that we need less people and less equipment to still accomplish the same tasks.”
The construction project allowed the district to add new security features to the middle school and high school building, but not all those features will be shared with the public.
“We have a lot of security that will be in these new facilities that necessarily won’t be publicized in the paper, but I’m aware of it because I helped design it,” Kuhn said. “Those are those things behind the scenes that we just tell people technology has come a long way and we’re able to do a whole bunch of things to keep the building safe and secure, but we’re not necessarily going to tell the public what those things are.”
A dedication ceremony for the public is scheduled from 3:30-4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at the middle school entrance. A ribbon cutting event will also be part of the ceremony. The facility will then be open to the public from 4-7 p.m.
Kuhn said the district decided to hold the ceremony after school started in order to allow teachers and students to get settled into the building first.
“I didn’t want to create anymore anxiety for the teachers or the administrators,” Kuhn said. “Let’s get settled in for a week or two, and then let’s let the community come in.”
Phase two of the construction referendum is already underway, as the old middle school is currently being converted into an elementary school.
“The middle school is under abatement right now, removing the asbestos in it,” Kuhn said. “They are ripping out lockers, tearing down walls, doing all that stuff. The goal of phase two is to make a space that elementary students fit into, not (put) elementary student in a former middle school or better yet, the old, old high school. We want elementary kids to feel like they are in an elementary school. And elementary school teachers feeling like they are in elementary school spaces.”
Kuhn said phase two will be completed by September 2023.