NEW VIENNA — The start of construction of a new East Clinton Middle School building is forecast for March 2021, the superintendent reported.
For the next 12 or so months, the design phase will take place, said Superintendent Eric Magee at this week’s school board session in New Vienna.
As part of the design process, a visioning meeting was held in mid-December where teachers and aides commented on what they think could make the new classrooms better learning spaces and what that might look like.
That conversation has started, Magee said, and will continue.
“According to the architect firm, they take pride in making it a building for that particular community. So, they take pride in making this construction project a project which is East Clinton, not just something they did at another school and ‘Here it is, let’s go’,” he said.
In other words, the architects want to learn of the needs the teachers convey and then provide for those needs through engineering and provisions, added the superintendent.
Elevar Design Group, headquartered in Cincinnati, is the architectural firm. The East Clinton project involves building a new middle school, as well as upgrading the high school and the two elementaries in Sabina and New Vienna.
Renovations at the two elementary school buildings are slated for the summers of 2021 and 2022.
Project leaders think they can do the two elementaries over those two summer breaks, wanting to avoid disrupting the flow of education in those buildings. In that connection, they want the summer breaks extended as much as possible to complete the work.
Magee told the school board he is trying to squeeze in school days during the next two academic years to make up for the school days that would be lost by having longer summer breaks.
To that end, Christmas break is a good candidate to get shortened. School board member Tim Starkey noted that Christmas will be on a Friday in 2020 and that can help the trimming process.
Magee said he is required to take input from the district’s unions regarding the school district calendar of work days.
In addition to a new middle school and an upgraded high school, the East Clinton campus at Lees Creek will have a significant infrastructure change with an upcoming project that would extend a water line from the Snow Hill golf course to the school grounds.
Currently, those two schools utilize two wells, one of which will go out of operation when the new middle school is built.
Magee said the water project will be a huge benefit to the district long-term. Absent the project, the district would still face large costs to maintain the well system, added the superintendent.
Those expenses would include replacing a water tower and the continued cost of a school employee spending a lot of manhours to keep up the quality of the well water.
In a report to the board of education, New Vienna Elementary Principal Jason Jones said staff is continually looking for ways to get students engaged in reading.
“Everything involves critical reading skills and there’s no better way to develop those skills than to practice reading and finding ways to get students involved into literature more,” said Jones.
One thing a lot of schools do, and which research backs up, is to get students interested in the book creation process — anywhere from writing to the publishing end of it, the principal added.
Accordingly, the elementary school and its PTO are in the early stages of planning an author visit to the New Vienna school next year.
For author visits at schools, most of the guest writers spend time with students, according to Jones. An author visit is a different way to get students interested “in all these wonderful books,” continued Jones.
First-year East Clinton High School Principal Michael Adams reported he sought staff feedback with open-ended questions. The positives included an overall good school climate, a staff complimentary of each other and students, plus a happiness about discipline, student engagement, staff outings, and support within the staff.
Staffers also were asked what could be reinforced or refined for the sake of improving.
“Communication is always going to be one that comes up. That’s probably [true] in any business that you do — you can communicate better. So we’re constantly working on that,” Adams said.
Staff indicated they are looking for follow-through on initiatives. The principal said he sees that reply as a positive because it means staff is ready to follow through with things.
And teachers also wish there were more options and programs that could be provided to students.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.