Hello Howards Grove Community:
I hope this newsletter finds you enjoying the summer in Howards Grove. If you’ve been following our recent communications through the district newsletter, website, and articles in the Plymouth Review, then you already know that the district has been holding community input sessions and recently conducted a formal survey to gather feedback from all residents regarding the need for a new Middle School. The proposed plan would move our school district from 3 buildings to 2 buildings, by building an addition to the current high school building to replace our Middle School. This plan would be cost effective for the district allowing us to sell the current middle school property and would reduce maintenance costs with only having to focus our upkeep efforts on 2 schools instead of 3 while also providing additional academic opportunities for our students, as well as access to the Center for the Arts for students in grades 5-12.
We had an overwhelmingly positive response from our staff and the parents in our community to move forward with a new Middle School addition at the high school, but those residents without children in our schools seem to be split on whether or not to support this decision. While we had hoped for even clearer direction from all residents on the survey, we are extremely concerned about the future of our buildings. The cost of building a new school will continue to rise if we wait another year and given the District’s borrowing limit, or debt capacity, we may not have the option to rebuild our Middle School in the future. Additionally, without an increase in funding from the State, our operational budget does not support the renovations needed at our middle school building.
As a district, we are committed to providing a safe learning environment for our students. If the School Board votes to move forward with a referendum at the August 15th meeting, we will be scheduling more community meetings to show renderings of what the new addition would look like as well as providing detailed answers to frequently asked questions. One question that continues to be raised is regarding the demolition of the current middle school. Please note the $39.8 million dollar referendum request, includes significant updates to Northview Elementary, the High School, and the demolition of the current middle school building. In addition to the needs identified in the facilities study at our school buildings, the maintenance report identified deficiencies and safety concerns at our athletic facilities. The board would look to the community to decide if the athletics needs are a priority at this time and would include as a separate ballot question contingent on the school buildings projects being supported.
The School District of Howards Grove is the pride of this community. It is evident in the packed football stadium on Friday nights, standing room only at our concerts, and strong financial support from the PTO and the Howards Grove Education Foundation. Please continue to support the school district by attending our upcoming informational sessions to learn more about the future of the School District of Howards Grove.
Please stay tuned and watch for more information coming after the August 15th School Board Meeting and thank you again for your ongoing support as we continue to strive to provide the best possible educational experiences for our students and safe and healthy schools in our community.
Shannon L. Kilton