The Bolivar-Richburg Central School District completed an $8.2 million capital project in recent memory. The primary focus of that project was the athletic facilities — the artificial turf was replaced, new drainage added, track resurfacing, new athletic field sound system, a gymnasium sound system upgrade and replacement of the scoreboard.
The district is again proposing another capital project in the amount of $11,254,464. It is important for voters to understand that one of the fundamental reasons behind this new capital project was the creation of full day prekindergarten; however, when reviewing the new proposition there are no renovations scheduled at the pre-K building. The only evidence of the pre-K in this proposal is a new fence. Our pre-K students need to be located together in the facility that we approved.
The new capital project is not just about pre-K, but that hotly debated decision created a huge domino effect. Placing full day in the elementary has caused a space issue and crowded classrooms. At the elementary building there will be “general classroom renovations to include storage and toilets.” Are these renovations actual efforts to keep pre-K classes in Richburg without saying pre-K?
The plan calls for renovations of the elementary locker room. Could this be the needed space for OT/PT that was eliminated when two full day pre-K classes were located there? The point is some of these renovations could be removed if the district would do the necessary renovations in the pre-K building.
According to the Oct. 1 board meeting minutes, it appears that this project is focused on continuing office space for the administration, needed or not. The superintendent’s office will be relocated to existing classrooms on the main floor to finish the administrative wing. The superintendent’s office will then be renovated for special education. The former principal’s office/business office will be renovated as the business office and conference room.
Office space. It is surprising that so many classrooms are open for such renovations.
I do see the need of some of the other project goals. Repairing the leaking roof at the elementary and the need of a new boiler system. The bus garage upgrades and replacements are certainly needed and warranted. An HVAC system for the high school gym is needed. I do have a concern when the district continues to take away classroom space for offices or find alternate ways to fill a room.
The administration continues to discuss dropping enrollment yet the project offers large modern locker rooms. We see the picture but what exactly is included in that renovation? Or the music room that needs renovating to offer an office and storage. The STEAM classroom is a positive addition but the shop should not be under the baseball grandstand when existing classroom space is to be converted into an athletic training room/office. With all the open classrooms there must be an alternate space for the shop room.
Classrooms to offices!
Our buildings may need some renovating structurally but most of those issues have been addressed in previous capital projects. Our athletic facilities have a beautiful presence in our community and are recognized throughout the county. The focus, however, should be on the quality of education provided to the students, not just what we build with brick and mortar, but what can be built as an educational team at all levels. What is happening inside is more important than what we visually see on the outside.
Pre-k education should be in the facility we voted for, teachers should be involved in curriculum decisions that are meaningful and driven by their knowledge of student learning. All employees should be valued so that an atmosphere of ownership and pride is a driving force for building success for the students.
The capital project cannot be used to hire needed bus aides or to improve morale in our school buildings, but we can use our collective voice to push forward positive changes for the students, teachers and staff.
This capital project misses the mark and I vote no.
There is a public presentation on the capital project at 6 p.m. today in the new lecture hall located off the high school cafeteria. It is our responsibility to be informed, to ask questions and to decide how to best move forward. The project cannot move forward without us.
(Cathy Fuller lives in Bolivar.)