As the superintendent of Somers School District it is my privilege to work with excellent teachers, really great students, involved families, and a supportive community.
After I accepted this position in the spring of 2016, I was surprised to read about a proposal to close Somers Middle School and send our students to Kalispell. The response from our school community was strong and encouraging. People clearly saw the value of keeping students in our smaller, local middle school, where teachers can know each student well and support their individual needs. A survey conducted at the time found 89% of respondents preferred to keep our middle school students here in Somers. 85% also said they were willing to support a bond to make needed improvements to the school facilities.
Last fall, in an effort to get to know more about the District, we surveyed students, parents, and staff. Along with a series of questions about our school programs, each group was asked what they liked best about our schools, what they liked least, and what could be done to improve things. The responses to what people liked least and what we could do to improve were overwhelmingly concerned with the condition of the facilities at Somers Middle School.
After reviewing this information, the Board of Trustees determined that we should conduct a facilities study to determine how to best address our needs. In December, the Board chose LPW Architects to perform that study. In January we began a series of meetings with a group of school staff and community members in which we identified the needs for the facility and discussed potential solutions. We considered everything from remodeling and renovation to complete replacement. After working through multiple iterations of the plan we settled on the proposal that is currently before the voters. This plan meets the needs of the school and community as identified by the group. It also makes the best use of the property at the Middle School.
The opportunities we can provide for our students will be greatly expanded by this updated facility. The larger shop will allow more students to have hands on, practical experiences in making and fixing things. The Science Lab will let our students learn by conducting experiments as scientists do. The greenhouse will provide a place to learn about growing plants, some of which may end up on students’ plates in the expanded cafeteria. Our musicians will be able to rehearse in a larger band/chorus room without disturbing classes across the hall. Individuals and small groups will use the practice rooms, and the entire community will be able to enjoy musical performances and plays on the stage in the new gym. The maker lab will give students the opportunity to transform their creative ideas into physical reality through 3-D printing and other digitally controlled manufacturing technologies. All of this will take place in a building that is more energy efficient and designed for greater safety and security.
Thank you for voting.