I first want to give a shout-out to all of the outstanding educators in the Platteville schools. Monday kicks off National Education Appreciation Week.
Any tribute would fall far short of showcasing all that they do for our community youth. There is what they do in the classroom every day, and then there are the many hours they put in above and beyond. They stay late and are here early to support students in need of extra attention. I see them at our various extracurricular activities, cheering on our athletes and applauding our artists and musicians. I am always amazed when I stop in on a Saturday or Sunday and see staff members working in their rooms to prepare for the week ahead. It is the extra effort they put in … every day … every week, that really pushes our students to reach further.
Education has never been a 9-to-5 job and those that choose it as a profession understand the rewards come in many forms. Watching students finally understand a concept they have struggled with feels amazing. It is seeing the excited joy on students’ faces when they do better than they were expecting. It comes in watching a student cross the finish line, step forward to receive recognition, or take a bow to applause. It is awareness that they play an important role in who our students are and even more importantly, who they will become. It is the experience of having a student come back, years later, and remind them that they made a difference. Thank you for choosing to be educators. Thank you for doing it so well.
I remember hearing a speaker talk about education, suggesting that if Rip Van Winkle fell asleep in a classroom 100 years ago and woke up today, it would not look much different. Desks would still be in rows, the teacher’s desk at the front of the room, and the day’s lesson written on the board at the front of the classroom. There may still be some recognizable aspects of a classroom, but the learning that occurs looks different and the facility needs and priorities have also evolved.
Back in 1996, the Platteville community supported a referendum of approximately $15 million to tear down and rebuild the present middle school and remodel and add on to each of the other facilities. By supporting that referendum, it was clear that community members understood the need to look into the future and provide updated and safe learning spaces for their youth.
The bond that was approved then will be paid back at the end of the 2015–16 school year, which gives the Platteville community the opportunity to potentially address future facility needs for the next 15 to 20 years without raising the levy. In the fall of last year, the board approved an extensive facility study with the goal of conducting an in-depth analysis of each of our existing facilities including their architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical capabilities. This included looking at such things as useful life projections and the development of a five-year maintenance plan.
Another aspect was to conduct an educational space analysis with consideration given to facility usage and limitations for instruction, as well as recommendations to improve the function and safety of common spaces. Lastly, they were to develop options for renovation and reconfiguration and/or additions to our existing buildings.
That study has now been completed and is available on our web page for interested community members to take a look at www.platteville.k12.wi.us/district/Facilities%20Study%202014.pdf.
The options for renovation include addressing maintenance needs through our on-going maintenance budget, addressing identified priority needs at each of the buildings, addressing identified priority needs and educational space and security deficiencies at each of the buildings, moving fourth grade to the Westview location, or dropping down to three buildings by moving seventh and eighth grades to the present high school. There are obviously pros and cons to each of these options.
I would like to invite community members to information sessions that will include a brief overview of the facility study recommendations and a discussion of the various options recommended, all at 7 p.m.:
• Tuesday, May 6: Neil Wilkins Elementary Learning Center cafeteria.
• Wednesday, May 7, Platteville Middle School Cafeteria/Multi-Purpose Room.
• Wednesday, May 14, Platteville High School Auditorium.
I look forward to sharing with you and hearing from you.
The Community Corner is a weekly column of opinion written by guest columnists UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields; Platteville School District Superintendent Connie Valenza; Platteville Regional Chamber Executive Director Kathy Kopp; Main Street Program Director Jack Luedtke; State Rep. Travis Tranel, Platteville City Manager Larry Bierke and Police Chief Doug McKinley.