Construction at the elementary school is coming to an end, and on Monday morning it will officially reopen as Twin Valley Elementary School. “Things are looking great,” TVES Principal Rebecca Fillion said. “There were a ton of volunteers at the school on Saturday to help move things in.” She said teachers were spending every spare moment unpacking and moving into their classrooms. “We’re excited to have the kids come in on Monday.”
“There’s a lot of excitement in the valley from kids,” said TVSB Chair Seth Boyd. “It will be exciting to be there next Monday to greet the buses.”
“It looks so different, you don’t even realize you’re in the same building,” added board member Adam Grinold.
Boyd said work was also progressing on construction at the middle/high school in Whitingham. The classrooms have been reconfigured, and middle school students will now be using the former elementary classrooms while construction is underway. Students, teachers, and parents will use the entrance closest to the former elementary pod while construction is underway, rather than the main entrance adjacent to the school offices.
Boyd said asbestos abatement was “99% complete,” and demolition in the science pod, locker rooms, and hallways was completed. “It’s interesting to see how big the rooms are once you get everything out of them.”
Boyd said excavation for the foundation footings for the administrative wing should be started by the end of the week, followed by footings for the new gymnasium. “Once they get the concrete in for the gymnasium, they can start putting up the steel structure.”
The elementary school construction has set the bar high for the middle school, Boyd said. “We’re so pleased with how the elementary school came out, we’re really trying to touch every surface in the middle school so, when we’re done, we’ll be just as pleased with it as we are the elementary school.”
Twin Valley Middle School Principal Keith Lyman said sharing a site that’s under construction was going surprisingly well. “I haven’t had any complaints, in fact some people have said they hear hardly any noise at all.” He said there were some minor bugs stemming from the reconfiguration of classrooms, but that school staff are working through them.
In other discussion, Boyd said there was a sense of urgency to share information with parents regarding the new elementary school and construction at the middle school. At the end of the school year, board members approved the creation of a new Twin Valley Elementary School website, and even selected staff to work on the project.
Tuesday evening, board member Dennis Richter proposed that the board hire a web hosting company that specializes in school websites to do some of the remaining work. He said the company would transfer information on the school’s existing sites to the new site, and would maintain the site for a $75 monthly fee.
Boyd sought to define the school board’s role in development of the website. “I think it should be driven by the principals and administration, and we should support them,” he said. “And my sense is we should outsource this to a professional organization – whether it’s this organization or another.”
Fillion asked if the proposed site would be “Google-based,” or if it could be. “For me, that’s the number one concern. All of our teacher pages are Google pages.”
Fillion urged the board not to add to teachers’ learning load. “We can’t ask teachers to take another training on top of what they’ve already got this year,” she said. “Once they learn a system, in my experience, it takes a lot to learn a new system. The learning curve for teachers is pretty steep.”
Fillion also noted that students use Google Calendar and have Google accounts to access their schoolwork online. “We need that capability. If (the website) can do that, then I’m in. That’s what’s important for my staff and kids right now.”
Lyman added his vote for a system that’s easy to learn and simple to use. Richter said he didn’t know whether the proposed site would be compatible with Google applications, but he said it would be compatible with the school’s PowerSchool software. He also said a demonstration of the proposed site could be arranged. “And you could bombard the guy with all sorts of questions,” he offered.
High school principal Bob Morse said it was important for the school to maintain daily control of the site so that things can be updated as needed. “I think we should take a look at the demo,” he said.
Grinold said there were two immediate issues. “One is getting the Deerfield Valley Elementary School URL gone, and the other is getting the Twin Valley Elementary School site up.”
The board also discussed the matter of board member stipends, and looked at stipends paid to other board members in the area – some as much as $50 for an e-board meeting, they noted. Some boards paid members only an annual stipend.
Business manager Karen Atwood noted that some board members never claim their stipends, and some do occasionally. Some board members donate their stipends to various school causes. “I’ve used mine for uniforms and signs,” noted Boyd.
Superintendent Dick McClement said he was somewhat surprised at the low stipends, noting that at one of his previous assignments, board members received as much as $150 for attendance at a meeting. “Sure, they probably had padded chairs, too,” quipped board member John Doty.
“They also had a $70,000 travel budget for attendance at conferences and workshops,” McClement said, attributing the extravagance to the district’s access to federal revenue.
The board said they would discuss Twin Valley stipends at an upcoming board meeting.