Facilities study a key component of education

A LOT HAS CHANGED in public education over the last half century or more.

The grandparents of today’s school children got a much different education than their grandchildren do today.

For the grandparents, a computer was something that filled up an entire room and you took a field trip to see, if you saw one at all.

Today, a computer is something that’s found on every desk in every classroom – sometimes even in kindergarten and preschool.

The jobs and careers today’s students are being trained for, the equipment required to teach them, the subjects they are taught are in many ways worlds different from what their grandparents required.

But despite all that change in education, there is in many instances one constant from grandparents’ school days to their grandchildren’s – the buildings they are educated in.

In the Plymouth School District, for instance, there are five school buildings – Plymouth High School, Riverview Middle School and Fairview, Horizon and Parkview elementary schools.

The newest of those buildings, Horizon, is already more than a quarter of a century old. The oldest one, Riverview, is more than 80 years old. The high school was opened in the 1960s and the other two elementary schools, Fairview and Parkview, date back to the 1950s.

The story is pretty much the same in almost any school district around.

The challenge for local school boards and administrations, then, is to find ways to upgrade and retrofit those buildings from another era to provide the education needed today.

The Plymouth School District, with the support of local voters and taxpayers, has over the years done an admirable job of adapting and improving its facilities to meet changing requirements.

Whether it’s been solely through taxpayer dollars, such as the several renovations and additions at Riverview, or through partnerships with private sector donors and other public agencies, as with the technical education and food science/agriculture additions at the high school, the district has done an admirable job of keeping up with changing demands.

But perhaps more important than new buildings or major additions is the ongoing enhancements, improvements and even maintenance of existing buildings. Those must be done most often with existing funds and within always-restricted budgets.

That is another challenge that the board and administration in Plymouth have done a fine job of meeting over the years.

It’s an ongoing and never-ending process. The School Board recently created a Facilities Study Subcommittee to focus on the needs at the district’s five schools.

The group has begun its work by focusing on Fairview and Parkview – the schools that have gone the longest without any major renovations, additions or upgrades.

Their focus is on security, classroom access, learning environment, food service, wellness and health, physical exercise facilities and other areas to meet changing requirements. They plan to consult with an architect and a contractor to make recommendations and seek public input as well.

Their work is vital, as keeping the district’s buildings up to date and in step with the improvements in equipment, materials and curriculum the district continues to make is needed to provide the best education possible for our children – one thing that has never changed over the years.

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