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February 20, 2013

Clarksville school board reviews New Tech options

CLARKSVILLE — Options for housing a New Tech facility while renovating and expanding current schools in the district were discussed at the Clarksville Community Schools Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, but more iterations of the plan are coming next month.

Several options in a feasibility study for New Tech — a project-based learning model for schools — and traditional school models were presented by George Link, a representative with VPS Architecture. After reviewing them, the board requested he come back for another meeting on March 12 with two more options that included renovating the middle school and the addition of pre-kindergarten programs.

With the options the board wants to see, Superintendent Kim Knott said she didn’t expect the total cost of school renovations, expansions and New Tech facilities to cost more than $30 million over a series of phases through several years.

To start, the district would open New Tech only to freshmen and continue the program through those students’ senior year, allowing a new freshman class each year thereafter. 

Bill Wilson, board president, said with declining student enrollment and turning away kindergartners and pre-kindergarten students because of capacity issues, expansion in those areas are a golden opportunity for the district.

“We are now at a point in our history, which is very rare in my opinion, we have the potential to do that and turn things around,” Wilson said. “... We have the potential of capturing both ends of the spectrum and turning things around. We would be crazy not to try to do that.”

The options the board reviewed included keeping current facilities open, housing New Tech courses in the middle school with expansion and upgrades, as well as closing the middle school altogether.

Doug Wacker, board member, said he didn’t like the idea of housing the New Tech courses in the middle school because he didn’t think it would be attractive to students and parents.

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