Community team pushes new recommendations for upcoming meeting

Community++members+can+look+online+to+see+when+the+school+board+meetings+are+happening.+The+community+can+go+to+these+meetings+to+hear+recommendations+of+the+CDT+and+voice+their+opinions+and+recommendations.

Photo by Rachel Duerr

Community members can look online to see when the school board meetings are happening. The community can go to these meetings to hear recommendations of the CDT and voice their opinions and recommendations.

Rachel Duerr, Online Editor

Changes in a school district are inevitable. As a community and school, there are many needs that need to be met involving financial and physical updates. A large part of these changes revolves around the Community Design Team and school board. The Community Design Team is a newly developed team made up of community members, city and township officials, students, parents and district staff. These team members work together to give ideas and recommendations to the school board to better the district for the current and future students/families. With an upcoming board meeting Feb. 20, the CDT will present their recommendations for a major change in the district involving many schools and parts of the community.

“Our recommendation is to accommodate the changing demographics of our district which would include building new schools and expanding  and remodeling existing schools,” Michael Kaul social studies teacher and CDT member explained.

The Community Design Team’s purpose is to utilize existing space, enhance existing facilities identify deferred maintenance projects to ensure safety in the district. In order to go through with the CDT’s ideas, they need to get approved by the school board. The CDT and school board discusses ideas and collaborates at board meetings.

“We also studied demographic and financial information. We toured every school, we walked with their principals trying to gather information about what their needs were,” Kaul said.

Members of the CDT got to dissect schools to see what needs improving, whether that be a bigger gym or more classrooms; all comes into consideration. Many areas of schools go unnoticed by the outside community. In order to enroll students into the district, parents need to bring completed forms to the enrollment office on Greeley street. This building is worn down and not welcoming for new families coming to the district. Kaul believes the recommendation is to open Oak Park as a school to serve transition and ALC students, but not as an elementary school. In addition it would serve as the Central Services facility.

Photo by Paige Sanders
School Board members discuss the recommendations at a meeting at the city hall on Feb. 6.
The Community Design Team recently made the official recommendations for future expansions or cuts in elementary schools in the district.

There is controversy regarding the past closings of certain schools in the district. These closings left many people feeling saddened and concerned with future changes to other schools in the district. The CDT works to provide ideas to the board to describe and bring light to the needs of the schools. Brookview elementary school opened after closing Marine, Withrow and Oak Park elementary schools which is now causing members of the community to have mixed opinions about spending money to change schools that are left standing. The school board works together with the CDT to evaluate the recommendations and decide the best possible outcomes for the district.

Our job is to ask questions about processes if we have them, look at the data that was presented, and overall, make educated educated decisions based on the project in entirety.”

— Jennifer Pelletier

“Our job is to ask questions about processes if we have them, look at the data that was presented, and overall, make educated educated decisions based on the project in entirety,” Jennifer Pelletier said.

When it comes to changes, everyone is not always happy about them. The purpose of making the CDT was to gather people of all kinds and perspectives to collaborate to build something good for now and for the future. The team works to think far into the future and see what is going to happen demographically with the schools and things we can do to better the insides as well.

“We’re trying to think as best as we can five or ten years into the future because people don’t want to build schools and then close them in the future. People sometimes attack the process because change is a thing almost everyone is hesitant about in some way, which is very understandable,” Kaul said.