Bond concepts voted on at meeting
Three top school improvement needs or concepts were determined by Clinton citizens Tuesday night at the Clinton Public Schools Vision 2020 meeting.
After votes were tallied the No. 1 area people would like to see addressed with a proposed bond issue was the upgrade or improvements of classrooms at various school sites.
The second issue was the possibility of building an indoor sports facility to allow teams to conduct practice when there is inclement weather and to possibly include a new weight room and fitness area.
Third on the wish list was the construction of a new performing arts center (PAC).
Supt. Kevin Hime briefly addressed the crowd of about 62 people assembled in the Clinton Middle School Cafeteria.
“In 2010 we ran a bond issue to improve the schools and now we are looking to do that again without raising taxes,” he said. A possible bond issue could be decided in October by a vote of the people.
At that point the floor was turned over to Clinton School Board President Luke Adams. Also present were board member Kim Meacham and elect-member Susanna Williams. Not present were school board members Dr. Floyd Simon Jr. and Paul Adams.
“The two other board members are not here because we want to use an abundance of caution and stay away from a quorum issue,” Adams said. “We are certainly not taking any actions and we want this to be a positive-type meeting.
“Tonight we are asking what would you do by capital improvements – if money were no issue – to improve Clinton schools. We want to get the community’s input and as a board we will act upon what you recommend.”
At that point a microphone was passed around and people were asked to provide one “key idea” for what they would like to see improved.
The two topics people mentioned most were classrooms and building a new PAC.
Classrooms are considered an issue due to aging facilities and space requirements. Ann Moore, secretary at Washington Elementary, mentioned how one class is held in a portable building and how some school officials are stashed away in “cubby holes.”
Other people talked about wanting the best and most modern classrooms for the students with input from the teachers about what they need or would like.
The PAC also featured several impassioned pleas.
Currently many events such as band or vocal music concerts are staged at the CMS Auditorium or the Tornado Dome. One person said a PAC would benefit kids from pre-k through high school and that the current facilities are “not adequate” for the needs.
Another talked about how neighboring towns have state-of-the-art centers and that it could be a boon to the community to be able to host events in Clinton.
Improvement to sports
facilities was talked about by several respondents. Suggestions included improving the weight room and including fitness areas, building an indoor practice facility, constructing a junior high wrestling practice room, improving the softball field and adding an aquatic center or an equestrian center.
While those three areas or presumed variations of made the final cut for bond issue consideration, there were other concerns brought up as well during the meeting.
Transportation upgrades and improvements to the sound system used by the school at McLain Rogers Park for graduation and in the Tornado Dome were discussed.
“More teachers,” Williams, who is the incoming school board member, said when the microphone reached her.
“Now we’re talking brick and mortar here – capital improvements only,” Adams replied.
Then she came to the conclusion there needed to be more science labs.
Technology upgrades or building a tech center for grades sixth through tenth, pods for common learning at the high school, a new library at Southwest Elementary and an English learning center for kids and adults were also bandied about.
Washington Elementary Principal Gene Ray also asked for an oversight committee to be formed to hold architects and construction crews accountable for whatever is decided. John Higbee, the high school football coach, echoed those sentiments talking about how his office at the Tornado Bowl exhibits some design flaws.
After everyone was given an opportunity to have their respective say, pens and paper were given out to those in attendance and they were asked to rate one, two and three the ideas they favored most.
They were asked to do so twice.
The first set of votes were discarded as Adams, Meacham and school administrators sought to streamline or combine some of the suggestions into fewer categories to consider.
“We jumped the gun there,” Adams said. He said if they did not do so that votes would be “all over the place.”
Kevin Wolters and Brett Johnson volunteered to help add up the second set of votes with school administrators. The votes were considered on a weighted system with the top vote receiving the most points.
While the votes were being recorded, Russ Meacham expressed concerns with the process of making the results the final say in what will be considered for a bond issue. He said he wanted people to be able to talk about and digest the issues more before they are decided upon in an official capacity.
Adams responded that the community is giving its suggestions and it would be up to the board to determine what actually is proposed to the vote of the people.
Getting back to the results, No. 1 was classroom upgrades at 164 points. Second was sports facilities at 102 points and a new PAC was third with 100 points.
“This is community involvement at its best,” Adams said after the results were announced. “Now we will look to roll out plans to get these on a ballot at our Strategic Planning meeting on March 26.
“We appreciate you all being here tonight and will be contacting some of you for help in getting this going.”
More will be known about what will be officially decided upon by the school board at the meeting scheduled for March 26. People were voting on generalities, but the board has had architects visit the schools for recommendations on costs and construction plans in some areas.
After the meeting ended Adams gave his thoughts on how the process unfolded.
“Went well,” he said. “The community told us what they want and now it’s the job of the board to go out and try to implement that plan.
“I really didn’t know what to expect tonight, but people came in with reasoned ideas and did a good job presenting them. They did a good job of taking them to heart. We all want what’s best for Clinton and this is an amazing community.”