HOWARD — East Knox Local School District Tuesday began the process of a community assessment of the school facilities. The goal is a plan for the future of the district.
Tim Hamilton, with the firm of Fanning and Howey of Dublin, explained to the audience of about 20 people, which included board members, administrators, teachers and community parents and residents, that this is the first step in assessing the facilities, looking at what the options are and coming to a community consensus about what needs to be done.
To do this, a series of meetings will be held between now and April, with as many community member as possible coming and sharing their thoughts about what the community needs and wants.
Essentially, Hamilton said, “we need you to speak up about what you think. Other people may have the same thoughts, or disagree, and we need to get everything out there to discuss.”
When one member of the audience commented that they needed to compare apples to apples in comparing options, Hamilton commented, “First, we have to decide what the apples are.”
Architect Steve Wilcynski, who will translate the consensus that emerges into possibilities for the future, said that could mean renovations, additions or even the replacement of parts, such as the old core of the high school.
There is room, they noted, where additions could be built at the high school and elementary school, but is that the best plan?
Or is the consensus to do nothing until some point in the future?
They looked at cost estimate of replacing existing systems or building new facilities, but warned that until they develop more specific plans, the numbers don’t mean much.
They also need to be further down the road before looking at whether they can tap into state money that helps districts construct facilities.
“We’ll start by identifying community thoughts on the district, what they want for their children and grandchildren, then move to developing plans, including ways to build a consensus about what is needed,” Hamilton said.
They will get to work in earnest at the next scheduled meeting on Dec. 11, which will be preceded by a tour of the high school at 6 p.m. for those who haven’t been through the facility recently. The regular meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.
A teacher at the meeting said people need to come in and see the things that aren’t always visible, such as the showers that don’t work, or the plaster that’s flaking.
They talked about getting more people to attend, especially people one person described as “critics” of the district.
After the meeting Superintendent Steve Larcomb said the district has a some aging facilities and systems that they’re going to have to do something about, but the board wants to community involved in the decisions.
“We have jewel of a campus here,” he said, and they need to plan the best path ahead.