Commentary By Libbie Conner
Before looking ahead, it’s important to look back at the last couple years within the Noblesville Schools district.
It’s been almost three years since a public referendum was approved that put into place our last strategic plan, our vision for efficient use of facilities to support quality educational programming. Thanks to our community, we have been able to expand most of our schools and build Promise Road Elementary School. Our elementary schools now house kindergarten through grade five and two middle schools serve students in grades six through eighth.
Many of you asked at the time: What about the high school? Are we going to expand the current high school or will we build a second one? Last spring, we polled the community and you told us that you want one high school. Many who preferred two schools said they didn’t want to fund the estimated $120 million it would take to build a new high school.
The community’s preference for one high school creates the base of the school board’s strategic plan for 2012-2020, a plan that was adopted by the school board in September. The priority items are expanding NHS to accommodate a return of the freshman class and retrofitting the current freshman campus to become Noblesville East Middle School.
What would happen to the current Noblesville East Middle School building? We are working with entities interested in purchasing the building. We could see college classes offered there as early as the fall of 2014.
• High school – Provide facility space to promote academic programs in grades nine through 12 and accommodate enrollment growth.
The big piece for the high school is to move the freshmen back to the main campus and have grades nine through 12 under one roof so that freshmen have equal access to elective courses.
The high school currently enrolls 2,612 students with 669 at the freshman campus and 1,943 at the main campus (677 sophomores, 655 juniors, and 611 seniors). An expansion would increase capacity to 3,200 and would provide space for the upcoming classes that range in size from 719 to 823. Currently, 3,045 students comprise the four grades from fifth through eighth and 3,117 are in grades one through four.
• Middle Level – Provide appropriate, equitable space for the middle schools to support the academic and athletic programs.
We have considerable inequity between Noblesville East and Noblesville West middle schools. We can improve upon that by relocating the current east middle school to the freshman campus and expanding that building to accommodate 1,200 students. Now, its capacity is 800-900.
• Elementary – Provide sufficient space to accommodate growing enrollment and continue to improve equity among buildings.
Our district’s enrollment growth this year was in the elementary grades. We need to monitor growth and plan for the eighth elementary school to accommodate 730 students and begin the process of acquiring land.
•Corporation – Provide space for support services and ensure proper short and long-term maintenance of all facilities.
We have purchased an office building on River Road that will be remodeled for use as an educational services center. We are looking to relocate and enlarge our transportation center and relocate the maintenance center.
We will provide information to the community as our school board takes the next steps toward implementation of the strategic plan. Watch our Web site, www.noblesvilleschools.org, and your mailboxes for information on further developments.
Libbie Conner is superintendent of Noblesville Schools. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.