Sara Swanson

School building consolidation community meeting draws hundreds of attendees

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Superintendent Cherie Vannatter presenting at a community meeting on building consolidation.

Manchester Community Schools held an informational community meeting Thursday night, intended for students who will be moving to a new building next year and their families. Although meant for current 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders, this meeting was open to everyone with concerns as the schools repurpose the Middle School next year, house K-6th grade at Klager Elementary, and house 7th-12th grade at the High School. The High School auditorium held more than two hundred people who listened to presentations by Superintendent Cherie Vanatter, Principal Kevin Mowrer, Principal Jennifer Mayes and second grade teacher Mary Fielder. Afterwards, families toured the High School and/or Klager Elementary School and had the opportunity to have their questions answered by the administrators.

Although a few more questions that had come up in the last weeks were answered, like “will the 5th through 8th graders continue to have fun nights?” and “will the 5th through 8th graders continue having awards night?” (the answers are “yes” and “yes, but only the current 5th, 6th & 7th graders -a new system will be decided on for the future”, most of the presentation focused on the school maps and new classroom assignments in the buildings.

The wing on the first floor of the High School currently known as the “senior wing” will house the the 7th & 8th graders next year. It includes bathrooms that only 7th & 8th graders will be allowed to use and will be the only bathrooms that 7th & 8th graders will be allowed to use. The only time the majority of students will leave this area is when they go to gym class, but there are no gym classes scheduled before or after 7th & 8th grade classes, so groups of younger students and older students will not cross paths with each other.

Selecting this hall as the new 7th & 8th grade hall had additional benefits, one being that the principal’s office and guidance counselor’s office open into this hall. Principal Mowrer explained that when he took on the principal job here, the senior class was especially rowdy so it made sense to situate the seniors closest to those offices, but that issue has alleviated over the years.

7th and 8th grade students dropped off by parents will not be dropped off at the same location as older students. They will have their own drop off loop in the staff parking area, where high school students are not permitted to park and either a short walk into the building, and down one hallway to get to the 7th & 8th grade hallway or a longer walk outside to come in directly to the 7th & 8th grade hallway. Staff will monitor the hallway before and after school, during lunch and during transitions between class. In addition, parents will be able to sign up to take on hallway monitoring shifts.

Mrs. Fielder, Klager 2nd grade teacher, reaffirmed the school staff and faculty’s commitment to student safety and wellbeing, whatever building the student is in.

Klager Elementary School classrooms will also be reorganized. Grades, which are somewhat spread out currently, will be realigned to group grades back together. Next year 5th & 6th graders will be located in the 200 level rooms, the bottom of the ramps where Mrs. Stommen’s and Mrs. Merrill’s rooms are currently located. This end of the building has its own separate entrance and own bathrooms.

Band will continue for 5th and 6th graders but will be taught by Mr. Schoendorff, who currently teaches music at the elementary school. Schoendorff, attendees were assured, is more than qualified to teach band and has actually written textbooks on teaching band. The current music room will be turned into a STEM lab, which will be staffed by current Middle School teacher, Mr. Hall for half days. The current, mostly obsolete and un-used computer lab will be converted into the music room. Band will be held in the cafeteria, which will be large enough to safely handle the sound, but the school will need to purchase sound panels.

After the presentation, families interested in touring Klager stayed in the auditorium and then drove over to Klager. Everyone else was free to tour the High School. Stationed throughout the High School were transition team members standing by gold balloons, answering any questions that attendees had.

If you were unable to attend the meeting but would like a tour of the schools, tours will be available of the High School on August 15th from noon to 8 pm, August 23rd from noon to 8 pm, and August 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. A second presentation similar to this one will be held on August 23rd at 7 pm in the auditorium with tours of both buildings available afterwards. Klager Elementary can also be toured on August 29th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. If none of those dates and times work, students going into grades 6th – 9th and their families can contact either of the building principals for a private tour. Principal Kevin Mowrer, at  kmowrer@mcs.k12.mi.us for a tour of the Manchester MS/HS, or Principal Jennifer Mayes at jmayes@mcs.k12.mi.us for a tour of Klager Elementary.

This will be one of the two entrances students dropped off in the morning will be able to come in. Meeting attendees ask the transition team member questions.

Meeting attendees tour the hallway that will house 7th & 8th graders next year.

All 7th grade lockers and the majority of 8th grade lockers will be located in this hall.

The High School will be re-named the Manchester Middle School/High School next year.

 

 

 

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