Dexter begins improvements to school campuses with passage of $71.7 million bond
By Alisha Birchmeier
As trees are cut down and the ground is chopped up, emotions are flooding the Dexter community. Between angry parents voicing their opinions and the mixed emotions of students, the bond has become the center of conversation in the community.
The original plan was to clear twenty acres of trees to place the two fields; however when looking at the placing and size of the fields only seven or eight acres needed to be cut down. While there is a rumor that all of the trees will be replanted, that’s not true; only some of them will be. Healthy new trees will be placed along the roadside to block the fields’ view from the road.
Some Dexter High School biology classes have discussed ways to replace these trees, such as their classes replanting as a project.
“We are looking to do this as our culminating project once we are done with IB testing,” biology teacher Beau Kimmey said.
Allowing this to happen would ensure that, even though part of the environment was destroyed, the area would be rebuilt in time.
Dexter students and parents have voiced their opinions on the removal of the trees; some are for it and some against.
“I’m against the trees being cut down because the school board values economy more than the environment,” senior Georgia Frost said.
The new fields will allow multiple uses for various sports. There will be lines for lacrosse, field hockey, football, soccer, baseball and softball. There will be lights along at least one side of the fields to allow for evening play, and a net in between to assure the safety of play.
“We need another field because of time,” sophomore Claire Vaughn said. “More practices can be after school, instead of fighting for field time, which in turn gives student athletes more time to work on their homework.”
Later on, a field storage house will be built, but not with bond money. The school can have a field house built at a low cost without wasting the bond money for such a small project. The money that could be used to build the field house if worked into the bond would be better off being used on bigger projects.
While the sports fields have had a slower start, the second half of Cornerstone already has solid footings to start the process.The expansion of Cornerstone is having a great impact on the quality of life for all kindergarten through second graders. Both Cornerstone and Bates were at 106% capacity. Many parents are overjoyed by the updates taking place for their younger kids.
“I have a kindergartener at Bates and three younger kids who will start in Dexter Schools in the next four years,” parent Margaret Murphy Schoenherr said. “I’m thrilled that they are being proactive about planning for the expanding building needs. I also think the flexible learning space between Cornerstone and Bates will help support teachers in continuing to provide creative and rigorous lessons. Anyone who is unwilling to invest in the education system doesn’t understand the interdependence of our society.”
By moving all first through second graders into one large building, Dexter Schools can expand the students’ education and hands-on learning experiences.
The building of the expansion was put to a halt when the ground froze at the building site.
“When the snow fell, it acted as an insulator to the ground, to keep it from freezing,” Superintendent Chris Timmis said. “When the snow melted, and the temperature dropped again the ground froze, that’s where we ran into trouble.”
The only way to continue building was to bring in saws and chop up the ground. The building is still moving forward at a pace that allows it to be open for the 2019-20 school year. The ground has been leveled and cleared, allowing for the placement of footings in the ground.
While Cornerstone is being expanded, all of other Dexter schools will be getting updated by 2022. In Dexter High School, the number one issue of water faucets not working will be resolved with the money from the bond.
In different bathrooms around the school, many students have noticed that there are different faucets. These are there to provide insight into which ones work the best. They won’t be the upscale touchless faucets, due to the fact that they are the most expensive and break more often than most.
There will be new carpeting put in in the near future. The carpets will be replaced during the summertime due to the safety of students and that everything will have to be brought out of the rooms to tear out and put in more carpeting. Many of the desktops will be replaced during this time as well.
However, this does not mean that Dexter High School students will have their own computers to take home. Many have heard that we finally have the money to provide high school students with laptops; this is one of the biggest misconceptions about the bond. The high school has enough laptops to be sent home now, but has not done so yet.
“Until the infrastructure is in place that would support $1,000 computers going home with 1,100 kids and take care of all the replacement costs–because kids are going to break them, drop their water bottles on it,” Principal Kit Moran said. “This already happens with the professional staff, unfortunately. Until [the infrastructure] happens, I don’t think it’s a great idea.”
One thing that will be done to all the buildings is an upgrade in security. The biggest upgrade will be done to Wylie. The office will be moved down to where the women’s locker rooms are right now, that way, visitors have to walk through the office and sign in before entering the rest of the building.
“I am the parent of twin second graders at Bates; I attended several meetings about the bond and was impressed at every one of them,” parent Sandra Louise said. “The amount of planning and forethought was incredible Not only is an amazing new school being built, but all of the other schools will also have improvements in safety and learning spaces. We moved to Dexter for the schools and we continue to be happy that we did.”
With DHS having so many entrances, there is a difficulty keeping all of those entrances secure. There haven’t been any changes made yet to improve school safety, but by 2022 DCS will take extra safety measure.
During the timeframe of 2018-2022, the community will continue to see improvements throughout all the schools, Timmis said. Only some schools will have exterior updates, but all will have interior updates. The district is growing and the bond is accommodating the growth of student numbers and the increase in athletic needs.