I'm sorry I missed the public meeting Thursday on plans to renovate my alma mater dear, Madison High School. From my reading of Friday's MDL, it appears my fellow citizens and the architects discussed a lot of practical, educationally sound improvements for our middle-aged high school. They also appear to have validated the position I laid out in the 2008 school board election: that we shouldn't spend taxpayer dollars on a gym expansion until we have addressed facility issues that have a clear negative impact on educational activities.
So what needs doing before a bigger gym with more seats? How about this list from Friday's article:
- More science lab space
- Bigger auditorium stage and updated sound and light system
- Bigger band and chorus practice areas
- Bigger shop areas for advanced vocational courses
- A dedicated special ed classroom (MHS doesn't have one?!)
- More workable art studio and exhibit space
- Separate space for the ceramics kiln (we had trouble with that back when I threw pots in Jill Frederick's classroom)
- More home ec kitchen space for advanced culinary classes (that sounds yummy!)
- Upgraded lighting and electrical outlets
- More teacher workrooms
One suggestion from the article I don't like: moving the library. "Should the library be the first thing you should see when you walk through the door?" asks architect Jeff Nelson. When it's a library as spectacular as the Madison High School library, I say, "Heck yeah!" That big open space with all those windows and all those books is the heart of our high school, perhaps the only inspiring architecture in an otherwise grim slab of 1960s concrete. And conceptually, I like the feng shui of walking into a high school and immediately seeing a center of independent learning, an open, well-lit gathering place for all students and staff. A grand central library is more inspiring than doors and walls... and it does more for the educational mission of the school than another gym.