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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Take the Madison High School Tour... from Your Computer!

I walked through Madison High School for the probably the two-thousandth time yesterday afternoon. This time, however, I took the official tour that our school district is offering to convince the public of the need for the $16.9-million construction and renovation project, which we get to vote on February 1.

Principal Sharon Knowlton wants to take at least 1000 voters on the tour before we vote. Her thought is that with 6500 registered voters in the district, if a thousand people can see (and smell) the condition of the building, and if those thousand each talk about the tour with three of their friends, those people will guarantee the necessary 60% yes vote on February 1.

Our group yesterday brought the tour tally to around 365. In the interest of boosting that number faster (and because the Madville Times is all about education and public service), here is the complete tour, as I recorded it yesterday:


Art Room:

Home Ec Room:

Home Ec Part 2:


Geometry Room:

North Entrance:

Utility Room:

The John:

Hall Lockers and Storage Room:

Special Ed Room:

Choir Room:

Biology Lab:

Boys' Locker Room Toilet:

Boys' Locker Room:


High School Gym:

Construction Plan:

Tour Wrap-Up:


  1. How do you go on the tour and not vote for the improvements? There really is a need and it appears that it is NOT an extravigant plan.

  2. Well, we won't know whether it's extravagant until we see the full spreadsheet on where the dollars are going. The numbers released on the MHS Facebook page don't account for the full $16.9M. And at least $2.9M is being misprioritized on building a new gym instead of hiring more English, foreign language, art, and music instructors who could restore cuts made in the past.

  3. Great community service Cory! Another example that a blog can be more than a soapbox.

  4. Cory is right to be prudent numbers should be reviewed. I still think the food vocational program (Prostart) is odd. Are they being channeled in to a food service job? Like the days some kids were encouraged to go to college and some to trade school? Almost almost no one knows what they want to do when they are starting their junior year in hs. No?

  5. I have to admit I only watched half the videos. I have some questions that I'll air here; I should just take the tour and ask them but maybe someone else has asked them and could answer them for me.
    So since she has admitted the kiln is illegally placed are there any plans to move it in the near time to make it less so?
    Are they still going to offer traditional Home Economics, which is something I think is more needed than an industrial food and hospitality program.
    They spent I don't know how many millions on a new elementary school, why didn't they just build a new HS and remodel the old space to become the Junior high and move the Elementary the Junior high? Not that it would be the most ideal plan but then we might not be having this conversation in another 10 years when the HS is too small for something else that nobody thought of now.

  6. Thanks, Barry! I'm trying to reserve my soapbox comments for later... but questions like Starr's make it hard to resist. :-)

    John and Jim: Now that you get me thinking about the food service program, it does seem odd that we would make such a big deal about this very specific vocational program when we haven't offered a general gifted program for years. Did all the gifted kids move out of the district? As John says, a lot of high school kids have no idea what they are going to be; shouldn't we focus on offering the best general education to stretch their intellectual limits?

    Ah, but I hear the kids taking AP courses don't like being pushed like that, because it makes it hard to get A's.

    Jim, that kiln fired my pottery pieces in that very same spot over 20 years ago. As for home ec, as far as I know, that program will still there; I think the culinary program is in addition to. And you know, much as I wasn't fond of home ec when I was a student, I can think of a lot more life skills students could get from more home ec offerings than from so many P.E. offerings.

    My hope is that this bond issue will arouse a discussion not simply about bricks and mortar but about our priorities for the education that happens inside those walls.

  7. [to all the "john"'s out there: JohnSD has a pic and profile, and I know who he is. There are too many other "john"'s to have just a first name on the post. Remember the nymity policy, please.]

    [Besides, why would someone who simply states support for the new gym plan be afraid to put a recognizable name to that support?]

  8. Cory, is there a way you can have the HS Tour links on your sidebar so people on both sides can watch them? I've told a few people who are curious to watch your videos and I'm just hoping they can find them if they aren't familiar.

  9. Good idea, Rod! I'm surprised the school hasn't embedded the video in their own project website yet.

  10. Cory,

    I know you didn’t post the videos for nostalgia purposes, but since I am no longer a resident of Madison and get no vote in the matter, I wanted to thank you for the very nice trip down memory lane!!! A lot of good memories in that place!!!

    David B.

  11. I want to answer a question in regards to the Pro Start and part of the direction of that. Yes, current Family and Consumer Science classes will remain the same; however, these classes as well as Business, Agriculture, Automotive, and Computer Technology fall under the area of Career and Technical Education.

    Much of Career and Technical Education requirements come from both the state and national levels as well as receiving funding from the Carl Perkins Act. With career and technical education, less emphasis is placed on the “hobby courses” such as the sewing and cooking classes to which we are historically accustomed.

    Through the Career Clusters realignment of career and technical education also comes more career-orientated classes. The state and national levels will not provide Perkins funding to buy sewing machines or items like that. They will help support the curriculum and equipment if a competitive career program is in place. Pro Start provides the hospitality and tourism part of this program as well as provides opportunities for state and national competitions.

    If you have ever visited the Culinary Arts program that Randy Doescher ran at Mitchell Tech, you will see the quality of student work. This is what Pro Start will also do.

    You can find out more about how Career and Technical Education (vo-ed) has changed and the emphasis is preparing the workforce at http://doe.sd.gov/octe/careerclusters.asp

    As you may know, MHS has very active career and technical education departments with student organizations that are recognized statewide.

  12. Culinary Arts -- great! Let's prepare kids for careers in one of the lowest-paying sectors of the South Dakota economy. Now, where's the proposal for a high school pre-law and pre-med program? Let's aim high, people!

  13. I'm having a hard time with this one too Cory. There seems to be industry partners with the ProStart program (SD Retailers Association). Why should we train people for food service or any career cluster (there are 16 in SD)at the HS level? Give high school kids a rock solid foundation. Don't force early career decisions. Certainly they could get much of this training on the job or post HS. If Wikipedia is correct funding for the Carl Perkins Act ends in 2012, what then?

    ProStart has its own web site:http://prostart.restaurant.org/about/

  14. John, good homework! You and Rob both give me more reading to do.

  15. I realize this is not the exact focus of the thread but just for follow-up.
    I don't have a problem with teaching students for a career after HS. I went to a Vocational/Technical HS. My classes were centered on my "shop"(Electronics Technology). We received education to prepare for a career as well as our regular HS education.
    It was a requirement to have 3 years of home-ec and shop in Junior high.
    Now if they would like to convert to that type of school I would be all for it. That's something that there aren't enough of, some path to a career with or without college/Tech school. That would require a lot more money.
    From what I understand Home-ec and a shop are only taught in HS here. For a lot of students this would be the only chance for them to learn how to work around a kitchen, sew, whatever they are teaching now. I feel that's way more important. Life skills classes are just as important as history and a career path.
    To kind of meander back to on topic, and in response to Charlie Johnson's analysis, they really do need to focus on needs instead of wants.

  16. I'm far from convinced these advanced studies in HS are appropriate, but if our school wanted one, wouldn't Information Technology be the best fit? Prepare our graduates to attend their home town college? Retention? Create an IT community here.


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