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What does the future hold for the Scotland County R-I School District? A group of nearly 40 volunteers  came together on Thursday April 24th in Memphis to discuss what’s in store for the local school district at the first meeting of the Community Vision Team.

“We had a diverse group of 39 community members attend the meeting which included board members, school staff, retired teachers, community business leaders, farmers, and parents,: said SCR-I superintendent Ryan Bergeson.

The district organized the vision team concept to help develop goals for the district and to demonstrate foresight for future facility upgrades.

The initial gathering allowed the participants to break out into small groups and lay the groundwork for possible upgrades based on what the participants identified as strengths and needs of the district and the community as a whole.

“Everyone that attended the meeting was able to participate in the discussion,” said Bergeson. “We worked in small groups to discuss school and community pride and the conversations were inspiring.  Everyone should feel proud of being part of the Scotland County R-1 School District and the support we have throughout the community.”

Team members discussed the challenges that face the community and school district moving forward. Ultimately they also reviewed the district facility study generated by ACI Boland Architects.

The facilities assessment master plan was created following site visits by the firm’s engineering team that reviewed the district’s infrastructure, buildings and other holdings in an effort to identify avenues for improvement for student safety, energy efficiency and much more.

One pressing need for the district that has helped spur the conversation regarding possible expansion has been the addition of the district’s early childhood program.

The ACI report noted that the district’s three sections of preschool are currently operating in classroom space not designed to meet the needs of such a diverse program.

“The expectations for accreditation and licensing are very specific,” the report stated. “It is recommended that the district consider adding three Early Childhood classrooms to the current elementary school.”

Other space needs addressed by the ACI report included special education and Title and RTI programming at the elementary school, where the Life Skills program is currently operated in a satellite facility across the street from the elementary school.  The report noted a lack of conference and meeting areas for faculty and teacher/parent conferencing, not to mention the very limited storage space at both schools.

The engineering report indicated the music room has reached the end of its lifecycle and is in need of replacement with the weight room in a similar pattern of disrepair caused by age that has led to numerous environmental issues.

Repair and upgrade issues highlighted included repair of leaking gutters and covered walkways, roof leaks and upgrading lighting and climate controls for the new HVAC system at the elementary school as well as addition of ADA compliant toilet rooms at both schools.

A priority was the replacement of the west entrance at the high school which is in disrepair.

Entrances were a top priority of the ACI report as it focused on campus security.

“A plan should be developed to create entrances and exits that are monitored and controlled,” the report stated. “This would require planning for major entrances and exits that could include new doors, electronic locks and security cameras.”

It was also noted that the district should consider a security fence around the east playground, which could also incorporate the ball field.

Other major projects identified included technology upgrades calling for additional computer access for students and staff as well as the possibility of a media center upgrade that would bring together a central library that could pool resources to serve the entire district. Gym space was also addressed in the report, noting that school and community use of the current facility places a great stress on scheduling of events, noting the district and the community would greatly benefit from the addition of a new multi-purpose facility.

The next meeting of the Community Vision Team will be held on Tuesday, May 13 at 5:45 p.m. in the High School Commons.

“We will begin the evening with a facility tour and the meeting will run from 5:45 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.,” said Bergeson. “I encourage anyone that has questions or that wants to be involved in the discussion to attend the meeting.”