Written by Rick Karas Friday, 28 September 2012 00:00
New year, new students, and in this case, a new look.
Before the Garden City Board of Education held its first regular meeting for the new school year, it was time to take a tour. The 2009 School Investment Bond has allowed the district to make significant improvements to its buildings, and all were invited to check out some of the changes at Homestead.
“Homestead was really starved for space,” District Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen said during the tour. “We have all kinds of special services we provide to students [here] ... they were working in, well if Gulliver were here, he would see it was almost Lilliputian, very tiny spaces, inadequate for kids.”
For starters, the old, cramped library has been converted to a psychologist’s office and resource room. The new library? It’s one of the features of an entire new wing added to the school over the summer. It features a large computer center. Right next door is a shared art and music space, featuring concert-like risers, so students can get a taste of what it’s like to perform on stage before they actually must do so.
The other major component of the renovation is energy. New overhead lighting has been added that automatically dims when there is enough sunlight. The lights will use reduced wattage, meaning they won’t heat up too much. Thermal doors will help keep classrooms warm in the winter, and brand-new windows have been installed throughout the school, replacing the old, energy inefficient single-pane models. Also, new boilers have been installed featuring a dual system. That means if one goes down, there is a backup ready to go if needed. Outside, new landscaping has been installed in the school courtyards. Smaller projects such as panel replacement and masonry will continue over the course of the school year.
With the tour complete, it was time to get down to the business of another school year, as the September meeting began. Dr. Feirsen noted that the high school has been awarded the School of Distinction award from the state, meaning all varsity teams had a GPA of 90 percent or higher. Also, both the middle school and high school have been recognized by the state education department as Reward Schools, having reached the top 10 percent in terms of student progress measured year-to-year. This will allow the district to apply for competitive grants.
The board announced that the district’s Professional Performance Review plan, meant to align with state legislation, has been submitted, but that they have not received feedback from the state as of yet. While they wait, the district has initiated a series of benchmark exercises, where students in every subject will be tested on what they know before formal instruction begins. Dr. Feirsen also said he’ll be seeking board approval for the Consolidated Application for federal grants, to bring some extra revenue into the district. It was reported that at the end of July, the district had a balance of roughly $20.5 million.
The next meeting of the board will be Tuesday, October 16, at the Middle School at 8:15 p.m.