The ISD166 school board has passed an open ended motion which allows them to remain neutral toward a new community center, but open to considering the facility as a part of the school complex under the right circumstances. Superintendent Beth Schwarz is also a member of the community center’s steering committee.
“The District wants the public to know that we are hearing what they are saying about the concerns of the community center, both the size and the scope of the project. At the same time, we do feel that a community center, perhaps not the one that is being currently proposed, could be beneficial to the students in the District, both in terms of drawing families in and also providing services such as swimming lessons, added gym space and some other things we think our students would benefit from.”
Hooking up with the school was not always on the table for the steering committee.
“The committee was originally opposed to that attachment, however after some of the community meetings and some of the things we’ve been hearing, attaching to the school has become a possible option.”
Community member Hal Greenwood represents a group opposed to building a large community center at this time. He made his concerns known at the July 19 board meeting.
“Hal Greenwood attended the meeting and again what we’re hearing the community saying is the scope of a 45,000 square foot community center is something a lot of people are concerned about.”
At this point the board is remaining neutral toward the community center, but willing to consider and partner with other entities if the right package is presented to them.
“It is not the school board’s responsibility to decide anything regarding the community center. But we want to obviously cooperate with all community agencies, and should the steering committee and then the board of commissioners want to more seriously look at the school site, and come up with a plan and come to the school board and say this is what we’re proposing, the school board will seriously entertain and look at what pros and cons are with that position but at this time they’re not going to say ‘yes, attach it’ because we just don’t have enough information.”
One of the concerns with joining the two facilities together is school building security. Schwarz said that’s not as big an issue as many think.
“People I think sometimes forget we have community access to our building right now to the North Shore Fitness Center. We have non-school people entering our building and going to the very center on a regular basis. Attaching the community center to the west end would allow us to lock off that area and actually provide the District with better security than it now has if the fitness center were to relocate to the community center. That would be a lockable end of the building and would actually improve the security of the K-12 building.”
The west end of the building where Community Education and District offices have been located has some structural problems. Schwarz said the school board will wait to see if the county is serious about working with the school and if a community center attached to the ISD166 campus is best for the District.
“If, in fact, the board of commissioners come up with a plan which addresses community concerns and that plan incorporates attaching to the west end of the facility and perhaps replacing some of our failing infrastructure on that end, we will look at it.”