While Vicksburg community students enjoy the last weeks of summer, Vicksburg Community School administrators are hard at work planning two large projects for the next school year: construction of a new road for Vicksburg Middle School and the installation of a new fire alarm system at Vicksburg High School.
To improve traffic flow and logistics for students and parents arriving at the middle school, the school board approved a $221,000 construction project that will repair the school’s parking lot and bus garage. The project will install a new driveway off East Prairie Street, and add parking spaces for buses and cars. A new concrete walkway will be added to separate school buses from parent commuters.
“We’re going to separate parent traffic from bus and staff traffic by constructing a drive through the old railroad berm adjacent to the Marketplace parking lot. Parents will go in, then out the existing parent drive, “…essentially making a ‘U’-shape,” says assistant superintendent Steve Goss.
Besides making traffic flow easier for staff and students, school superintendent Charlie Glaes says the new construction will offer more parking spaces for high-volume events, such as parent-teacher conferences, sporting events and other scholastic happenings. Construction is underway and the Board projects it will be complete by the start of the school year.
The $149,000 installation of a new fire alarm system at the high school will run through this summer and into the early part of the school year. The new system will run parallel to the old system until the installation is complete. Brent McClure, vice president of Frederick Construction, the company contracted to install the system, explained that the new system will last longer. McClure says this is not due to wear; they have more ways to keep the system from becoming obsolete.
“The [new] systems installed now are more open-sourced, where different manufacturers and suppliers can work on them,” says McClure. “Older systems 20 years ago were privately handled, so when [companies] stop making parts because it doesn’t fit the company’s business model, you’re kind of up a creek without a paddle. That’s what is happening with the high school.”
Tom Danielson announced he will retire from the Vicksburg Board of Education this fall. After 16 years of service, Danielson will be sorely missed, noted Skip Knowles, president of the board.
“It’s been 16 great years; you have given us 150 percent and it’s appreciated. This is very sad news for all of us, for the taxpayers and all of us on the board.” said Knowles.
Board Pushes for Common Core in Mathematics
The Board also approved new math text materials for grades K-8, utilizing the Common Core standards. Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in math and English have been a hot issue in education across the country. CCSS is an educational system of benchmark criteria through which grade by grade achievement can be measured. This initiative has been adopted by 45 states, including Michigan, since 2010; teachers and administrators say it helps them assess how students are doing in certain subjects.
The Common Core does not influence how teachers should teach, but delineates what students should learn as they progress through each grade. Superintendent Glaes said that teachers have not changed how they teach, but publishers are making new resources to help implement the Common Core, and to help students succeed, “common bar, common materials” are needed. The Board voted to approve this purchase.
Vicksburg High School science teacher and Vicksburg Education Association president, Liz Ratashak, praised the Board for implementing Common Core standards for Vicksburg students.