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USC votes to spend $72,000 on media center upgrading

By Staff | Sep 23, 2018

United South Central’s School Board is dedicated to being an innovative school that wants the best for its students; and after their first five years in the new school, USC is looking to upgrade their media center.

At the cost of $72,281, the School Board approved the budget for redesigning the media center. The total cost includes dollars for glass walls, new counter tops, new media center furniture, high-tops and high-top seating, and a high estimate of $10,000 for miscellaneous expenditures.

Student representative Lexi Suhr said she was able to address some of the student population with a layout of the new media center set up that would have glass partitions for three separate rooms in the media center for the library, a classroom, and a makerspace.

A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside the media center for making, learning, exploring and sharing things that use high tech to no tech tools.

Suhr stated she was excited to see a charging station for phones in one of the available spaces, while other students expressed their excitement to have a space after school where they can quietly read or study.

“I know right now, after we have volleyball practice, we have to take turns going to each other’s houses to study because we can’t be at the school after 3:30 p.m. without an adult,” said Suhr. “I think having that space available after school will help a lot of kids.”

She also stated when students are creating banners or doing other classwork, they would usually retreat to the commons area.

“The issue with that is that it’s really a passing area. Sometimes when we go there, there are kids having lunch or kids being loud. I don’t think it’s the best place for doing class stuff,” she shared with the School Board.

School Board member Diana Brooks had some concerns with not only the cost, but the way the school has been sharing this with the community.

“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback with people who are very hesitant about this upgrade,” she said. “There are other areas like the auditorium that need to be addressed before this update.”

“We are limited in educational space and we would like to see more of a learning area for study and instruction,”?said superintendent Keith Fleming. “We are addressing the needs of the auditorium, but that will take some time, and we are also addressing upgrades on safety as well. I would recommend moving forward with this project.”

“If you look at the design of our current media center, which was designed in 2012, we have three shelves for encyclopedias alone,” said chairman Dale Stevermer. “I think that shows how dated our media center has already become. With this redesign, we would have more open space for a different type of educational space.”

“Schools get outdated by not continuing updates to their school,” said board member Jon Feist. “Let’s be proactive. This is not in place of other projects we are addressing. I think if we want to continue to see the great progress we’ve made with our students, we have to continue to be innovative with our learning areas.”

Feist also wondered if doing the media center remodeling in steps would be more beneficial rather than doing everything at once.

Brooks brought up another concern about space used for students with special needs and whether there would still be enough room and access for those who need a quiet place to take tests, and whether there would be space enough to allow paraprofessionals to take their students to quiet and private places to learn.

“I think with the glass in place, which is about a half-inch thick, we would have the opportunity to allow more students using the media center at one time and still not disrupt others,” said Stevermer.

“This is a K through 12 school,”?said board member Mike Schrader. “We have to address many needs for many students, but I think this plan is good. We need to innovate our school and stay on top of it. I don’t think this will create anything except more opportunities for students to learn in new ways.”

With plenty of input, the motion to approve the budget for the media center redesign was passed.

In their meeting, the USC School Board also:

Purchased 30 more ChromeBooks for the school, at the cost of $5,820. With the school’s enrollment rising, Rita Vondracek, director of technology and digital learning, suggested the school have enough ChromeBooks on hand for students as well as added devices for students in need of special requirements for testing.

Certified the preliminary 2018 payable 2019 levy to its maximum with no set dollar amount. They also set their Truth in Taxation meeting for Dec. 18, at 6 p.m.

Approved a motion to start a petition to improve the county tile line leading to County Ditch 90 and approved Superintendent Fleming to initiate the process. After finding their retention pond has become a full-fledged pond, the school found the tile near their property is not filtering like it should. This process would begin addressing the issue of excess water on the school’s property.

Began the process of purchasing a new seven-passenger minivan for the school.