The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 25, 2014

New middle school takes center stage

Change is difficult to handle.

When it impacts our children, it’s even more difficult to process.

The new Clinton Middle School took center stage this week with a tour and a forum. The facility isn’t finished and won’t be until October, meaning next school year’s students will transition to a new building in the middle of the year.

That was one of the few concerns parents brought to the forum this week.

I understand the concerns. If my child had to pick up and move in the middle of the school year, I may have reservations. From a parent’s perspective, the education of my child is the single most important aspect of what a school can provide.

For school administrators and taxpayers overseeing the entire operation of a district, there are several priorities to consider, including not letting a multi-million dollar building sit empty for an entire year when it’s finished.

It will be an adjustment for students. What I’ve learned as I age is that children are resilient.

For some students, moving to a new building will be nothing compared to what happens at home. For others, it may take awhile to gather their bearings.

That’s a good lesson in life. Sometimes things aren’t always smooth. There’s bumps in the road, and this will be a bump.

It would have been great if the building was operable by August and the bugs could be worked out by Labor Day. That’s not the case.

It’s time to move on and make sure the transition is as good as possible, which is something the forum this week addressed.

In the long-term, the new middle school will create a better environment for our community.

With a shrinking population, Clinton is no longer able to sustain two middle schools. It doesn’t make fiscal sense to have a workforce designed for two buildings when it’s not necessary. Right now, the price tag of the construction — more than $20 million — creates sticker shock to residents who help fund the schools.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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