Last night I raised my right hand, said an oath, and began my journey for a third term on the Watertown School Board.
The highlight of the meeting was discussion about the new Middle School. Our school district is bursting at the seams with no place to put our kids. It’s a good problem to have, but the amount of money we’re talking about doesn’t thrill me. The plan is in the development process and we need to do more work to bring the cost of the project down. I’ll be asking questions to help differentiate between our wants and our needs. What would be nice to have versus what is necessary? Maybe those questions have already been asked, but since I’m new to the project and bring a fresh perspective, I think it’s important to ask them again. There’s no question in my mind that our new school must meet the needs of our children, but it must also be a project we can afford. On the positive side, our school district is in excellent financial shape, and for the first time in longer than anyone can remember we will shortly see retirement of all of our debt. It’s a good position to be in when considering a new building project.
The proposed plan calls for construction of a long, skinny school along 11th street east, facing west. The side of the school would be along 14th Avenue North — across the street from Cornerstone Church. On the picture you see a white snowline adjacent to a line of trees. The school would be built just to the north of the trees. A practice field would likely go to the south of the trees — between the trees and 14th Avenue NE, with a trail developed between the school and the field (click on the picture to enlarge it).
The current Middle School has around 103,000 square feet, and the plans for the new school call for around 140,000 square feet. The difference in size is to accommodate the influx of additional students coming up from the elementary school levels.
In general, I like what I see in the plans. The school will be much more functional than what we have, and that should translate into a better experience for our kids and teachers. I’m also happy to see modern safety concepts have been incorporated into the design. There is still lots of work to be done but we’re heading in the right direction. I’m grateful to be part of the process again.