*Benton-Carroll-Salem School District Facilities Update*
7th Grade Moving from the Middle School to High School
In our original timeline, we planned to move our 7th grade students and staff to the Oak Harbor High School campus for the start of the 2023-24 school year. As I looked at this timeline, I became concerned that to move 7th grade to the High School at the same time we are moving grades 4-6 to the new addition at R.C. Waters would be an overwhelming task in the Summer of 2023. We have only so much capacity and manpower. There is an advantage to pacing out the work. Therefore, I have decided together with our Board that it makes a great deal of sense to move the 7th grade to the High School during the Summer of 2022. Thus, our 7th grade will have their home at the High School starting in August 2022. This move presents a great opportunity not only for our 7th grade students/staff, but for our entire high school.
We have confirmed that there is enough empty and under-utilized classroom space to move the 7th grade. Now, we will begin to roll up our sleeves and consider the programming for 7th grade, and all of the opportunities to make sure our 7th and 8th grade students feel part of a comprehensive 7-12 high school campus. We want our 7th and 8th graders to be connected to our High School, but also have respect for the age and developmental level of these students. This is a transformative undertaking that likely leaves all of you with many questions. Some things I can tell you with certainty for right now are:
1) Mrs. Schell, Principal, and Mrs. Wolf, Assistant Principal, will remain the leaders of the 7-12 Oak Harbor High School. They will be provided with administrative and other support given the addition of another grade level. Mrs. Schell and Mrs. Wolf are excited for the opportunity of welcoming 7th graders to the high school next year!
2) While there is enough space to add the 7th grade to the Oak Harbor High School building without any new construction or major renovation, there will need to be some minor tweaks to the space to accommodate additional students such as providing for a middle school wrestling room and adding band storage. The addition of 7th grade will require the movement of not only 7th grade teachers, but also current high school teachers. Room assignments are not yet set. We will have a dedicated "Moving Crew" to help with the movement of desks, supplies, technology, etc.
3) The Middle School Gym will continue to be utilized for 7th and 8th grade athletics.
4) During October, we will be forming a 7th grade Transition Task Force that will include teacher, parent, and student input. We want to ensure that this move is captured as an opportunity to get better for our current and future students!
5) There are many logistics and programming decisions to be made in the coming months. The expertise and input of staff in the decision-making process will be essential to our success. I will continue to keep you updated on the progress made by this Task Force.
The plan to exit the Middle School building and build an addition as a home for grades 4, 5, and 6 at the R.C. Waters Elementary building is on track! Thanks to the collaboration of Mr. Spurlock, Ms. Carroll, Mrs. Bryant, and Mrs. Lipstraw, we have landed on how much new construction we need to accommodate grades 4, 5, and 6-- and at the same time relieve cramped conditions at R.C. Waters. The new addition will be approximately 43,000 square feet in size. This includes 16 regular classrooms, new storage and work spaces, expanded cafeteria space, a STEM classroom, and a new gymnasium large enough to run multiple Physical Education classes and to host middle school/high school athletic events or practices as needed. This project is entering the schematic design phase. This means that the architect (Garmann-Miller who specializes in school construction) will be providing us with a rough design that we can take to our administrators and staff for input. We want space that is driven by the needs of students/teachers, and space that is conducive to 21st century learning! This will be an exciting phase of the project. Further design work and bidding of work will happen this fall and winter. We expect to break ground on new construction in the Spring of 2022. Our goal- which we are told by our architect is realistic- is to open the new addition in June 2023.
Our plan to install air conditioning to the existing R.C. Waters building remains on track. The plan is to have air conditioning installed by August 2022.
We Got This
As we all know, change is the only constant in life. We all need to wrap our heads around the idea that, yes, the 7th grade move is happening first, but there are other changes ahead over the next year and a half. Nearly all of the staff will be impacted by these moves somehow--changes in office, changes of classrooms, changes of schedule. With all the moves and the decisions to be made we want to do it right the first time, and we want to do it in a way that helps us improve for students! I know, quite frankly, that change brings anxiety. But, we can do this. It all does not have to be done in one day. As they say--"Eat the elephant one bite at a time."
I plan to do a Facebook Live event (@BCS.Schools) at 12 Noon on Friday, October 8th to take any questions you may have concerning facilities or other district operations. Please try to join in.
As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback, questions, and concerns at any time. You can reach me by phone at 419-898-6210, or by email: email@example.com
Thank you and GO Rockets!
Facilities Update August 2021 (Click Here)