Elementary Bond / Celebration
March 3, 2014
The Helena School District’s facility planning process made huge gains this past month when the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to hold an elementary bond election this fall. The community has now moved from the theoretical phase to the doing phase. The plan that was approved was not without some controversy and the Board thought it prudent to convene a group of stakeholders to ensure all questions are answered and well-defined information is provided to the community. This practical direction provided by the Board enables the process to gain clarity and provide an additional opportunity to receive input on the elementary bond.
The Elementary Bond Work Group will not be starting over nor will they be going back to square one. Rather, it will refine the current plan and answer some very specific questions. The Board’s approved plan calls for addressing elementary displaced students - those who cannot attend their home school due to building restrictions. Additionally, it provides the necessary resources to enhance technology infrastructure in all K-8 schools. This Work Group will be faced with two major questions:
- If Central Elementary is to be built to a 500 student capacity, where will the students come from? Does this recommendation require boundary realignment, consolidation of schools or both?
- How do we address the overcrowding at C.R. Anderson?
The discussion created by these questions will allow a thorough understanding of how facilities relate to academic achievement (it is much more than creating a 21st Century environment) and the academic and financial advantages of a 4-3 section school (defined as four classes of Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades and three classes of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades). Lastly, the facility process is forcing the District to analyze and reprioritize the operating budget (resources needed to operate the schools on a day-to-day basis).
The members of the Elementary Bond Work Group are parent and staff representatives from each elementary and middle school (K-8 schools) and other community members. It is imperative that the community is well represented not only to gain valuable input, but also to create an open communication channel. The tentative date for the first meeting will be Wednesday, March 19th. All meetings will be posted and the opportunity for public input will be provided.
In summary, the vote to run an elementary bond this fall is exciting as we are one step closer to our goal which is providing optimal learning environments for our students. The Elementary Bond Work Group will clarify and communicate the details of this proposal to the community. In the end we will have a vision that will offer the best ways to make our schools safe, efficient, and promote academic success for all our students.
Helena High Students Win National Honors
Nick Burkland, Bridger Howell, Jake Pennington, Mark Sargent, Sage Smith and Joe Whitney developed a concept for a mobile 3D scanner which won them national recognition in the Verizon Innovative Application Challenge last week.
Earlier in February, they won the state contest and were named regional finalists. As a national winner they now have the opportunity to have their application developed with the help of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The team has been invited to Washington D.C. in June to present the winning application. The idea of the app is for a smartphone application that takes high-quality 3D scans of objects which can be imported into computer design software and edited.
This is an exciting time for Helena High and especially for these six students. The Board of Trustees plans to recognize the team at the March 11th Board of Trustees Meeting at Ray Bjork Learning Center.
Kent Kultgen, Ed.D.