Breaking new ground

Passage of both ballot items ensures new high school in 2022

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Breaking new ground

Abigail Vondy, News Editor

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After years of pushing for improvements in the RE-2 district, Eaton has finally taken the steps towards a brighter future. History was made during the election on November 5, which concluded with the passing of both ballot items–4D the Mill Levy Override, passed 51.20 to 48.80 percent, and 4E the bond for a new high school, passed 55.30 to 44.70 percent. 

According to Superintendent Bridget Muse a new high school building was key to making this bond more appealing than any of the bonds from the past. With this new plan in place the current EHS freshmen will be the first to graduate from the new high school in 2023, and the current sophomore class of 2022, will be the last to graduate from the historic 1928 high school. If all goes as planned, the new school will be ready for students to move into during the 2022-23 school year. “This plan is the largest scale project ever for our district. It is a historic milestone in a community centered around our schools,” Muse said. 

Many years have passed since the Eaton school district has seen such a large advancement. Social studies teacher Doug Preston said, “I went to high school here and very little has changed. The community is growing and other schools around us are providing better atmospheres for students, so it was time for a change. The bond and Mill Levy will grant this change.” 

Muse said the new plan is “strictly for the students.” The district wants all children to have a better educational environment that will prepare them for their futures.The new building will have a more advanced science program, better agriculture and woodshop departments, more advanced technology, and many more improvements that the high school is in need of. “This project is phase-one of a long term plan to keep delivering a high quality education to our students that prepares them for both college and career,” Muse said. Positive learning environments with air conditioning,  flexible furniture, and up-to-date technology will ensure our students have the same advantages provided to other students in our region.”

The 4E bond grants the school $128.5 million to go towards the construction of a new high school and renovations to all of the current schools. With the building of a new high school comes major changes to the elementary and middle school. 

Due to the increasing overcrowding in the current elementary school, the young students will be moved to the middle school, which will be renovated to be more accommodating for smaller children. 

The middle school will then do moved to the current high school which will receive updates that will ensure the middle schoolers of the future will not have to overcome the same problems that the current high schoolers do. BEES and Galeton will also receive renovations to provide the best educational environments possible for their students. 

The 4D Mill Levy Override will provide the district with an extra $1.5 million annually of additional funds for mental health and safety, the attracting and retaining of high quality teachers and support staff, and funding the increased costs of operating and maintaining district buildings. 

All good things come with time, and principal Jay Tapia said this project will definitely take time. During the next few years, students and staff will need to overcome construction and renovations throughout the schools. “It’s going to be a lot of work, especially over the next few years as they actually do the work. That part is going to be really interesting. But once we get it all squared away and all the buildings are built and remodeled, I think it’s going to be just an exciting time and hopefully bring more families and students to our community,” he said.

Most students in the district can see RE-2 overflowing with kids of all ages–whether it’s in the classroom, where three to four extra desks are crammed into a small room, or in the hallways where students stand shoulder to shoulder weaving through a maze of kids just to get to classes.

Although some planning has already taken place and community members, teachers and administrators have all given input on the new project, the school board will soon be meeting with designers to complete plans for each of the schools. Muse said, “The first step is to start meeting with design advisory groups to design the new high school and renovations at EHS and EMS. We will need to develop construction calendars and plan how to deliver classes at EHS during the construction.” Soon step one will be completed and before long, Eaton will have a completely new look, and no student will ever have to complain about air conditioning, overcrowded classrooms, or small hallways again.