Building For Our Future: A Discussion with Superintendent April Domine
Q: Congratulations on the Successful passage of Issue 50, what does this mean to the New Albany
A: The New Albany – Plain Local School District is incredibly grateful for the support of the community in keeping the district moving forward. The number of people that were engaged in this campaign was truly remarkable and every effort that was made is greatly appreciated. As a community, we worked incredibly hard to make this a reality for our district.
We again thank our volunteers for the countless number of hours dedicated to this effort. We specifically wish to thank and acknowledge our campaign chair and New Albany Schools parent, John McClelland and his wife Angelika, our honorary chairs, and our neighborhood captains. We also thank our school board members, teachers, administrators and staff, parents, community members, students and donors who made this effort possible.
Q: What are the next steps in the process? How does a district determine the way going forward?
A: The district is currently engaged in securing an architect with experience both in engaging the public in the planning process as well as building innovative and flexible educational space. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was issued in early December 2012. There were 13 submissions and the district is now reviewing those proposals in order to identify an architect that will focus on engaging the community, faculty, students and administrators in designing the new space.
Q: What can the community expect as this process goes forward?
A: The community involvement element of building plans is becoming more and more a common practice in the design of schools. The architect selected must provide the basic guidelines for educational space and residents will be asked to share development concepts with educational methods in mind.
Faculty, students and the district facilities committee will also be asked to help create educational-learning opportunities that would best utilize the space. During the campaign we talked a lot about the use of innovation and flexible learning. The space that we are talking about building which the community has generously endorsed will afford the district to accommodate the overcapacity issues we are currently experiencing at 700 students. This will grow to over 1,000 in the years to come. The term “flexible” will enable the district to be responsive to this growth by enabling the necessary shifts of students to maximize our learning environments throughout the campus.
Q: Based on this ”flexible” space concept. What grade levels will be served in the new building?
A: That is the beauty of this concept. We are not going to be limited in our use or confined to a certain grade level in this building. Through the design process we intend to research best practices and provide the community with examples of how this will be a very different, innovative use of space, while developing a space that ensures a unique learning environment for the New Albany Learning Community and one we hope will be a model for other districts.
Q: When can the community expect to see construction?
A: The goal is to hire an architect in February and begin design work by spring on the new building. It is essential that the architect work within the projected budget and the planned timeline. Public participation and planning will begin in 2013 with the hopes of a design plan in the spring and to break ground in summer 2013. It is our plan to have a building open for the fall of 2014.
Q: For those familiar with the campus, where will the building be located?
A: At this time, based on the campus Master Plan that was developed in 2010, the intent is to build northwest of the 2-5 elementary building, near the cafeteria for the middle and high schools. Currently, there are playgrounds, recreational areas for children and a few modular units on that site. We also want to assure the community that when construction does begin, we will be working very diligently to communicate the changes they can expect; re-routing of drop-off points, parking transitions, and other issues to assist visitors to campus, staff and students.
This is an incredibly exciting time for the school district. Again, our thanks to the community for this support and it is our goal to build the future with a student centered approach and community involvement each step of the way.