Milano converting former temps' into new junior high
"There is a lot to be said for persistence and inquiry, and a little bit of luck," says Milano ISD Superintendent Lindy Robinson.
Robinson calls the purchase of Rockdale Elementary's fourthgrade building a timely opportunity.
She said the building was originally sold to a church group, but the church was unable to come up with the funding.
About that time Robinson saw Rockdale ISD Superintendent Dr. Howell Wright Jr. at a meeting in Caldwell.
Robinson told Wright she was disappointed Milano didn't get a chance to bid on the building. Dr. Wright told her the original buyer's funding had fallen through.
"We couldn't pass it up," Robinson said. "We had a very small window to make a decision."
In early July, MISD administration and school trustees went into "overdrive." They called a special meeting and entered into an interlocal agreement with Rockdale ISD for the building.
Earth work was started for the new addition on July 14 with the final piece tied together on July 29.
Robinson hopes the move into the new junior high building will be made over the Christmas holiday break of this 2009-10 school year.
The district was able to get a bank loan to purchase the new building and no budget cuts were needed for the purchase, she said.
The current Milano Junior High building housed seventh through 12th grades until 2003 when the new and long-awaited high school was completed.
The new junior high building sits behind the high school and students from both "campuses" will share cafeteria, library, gymnasium and science lab spaces.
Renovations to the current junior high will begin immediately and that building will become the new Milano Elementary School. The current elementary houses pre-kindergarten through fifth grades and is located approximately three-fourths of a mile to the east of the current junior high campus and next to the Charlie Martin City Park.
The current junior high has eight classrooms, including a science lab, and also has a cafeteria and gym. There are approximately 95 students in grades six to eight in Milano.
With the school striving to become more technologically advanced, Robinson said the district is looking to get "computers on wheels" for junior high students who will use lap tops in the classroom.
One of the classrooms in the new junior high building will be converted into an office for the principal and secretary during renovations. The Life Skills class will share a room with the same class at the high school building.
Cost of the renovations are pending, but Robinson said some will be done "in house" with current MISD employees who have the skills and knowledge to be able to do the renovation work.
Robinson said t hat Oncor Energy has agreed to pay part of the new window installation in the new wing, putting in effi- ciency windows with E-Star ratings. To keep with the "green" efforts, Oncor will also help out in phase two of the construction by contributing to the purchase of energy efficient air conditioning units for classrooms.
First phase in renovating current junior high (future elementary) will be replacing or updating flooring and wall surfaces, Robinson said.
For the upcoming school year, film has been put on windows at the current elementary campus to ease heating and cooling costs.
Robinson said trustees haven't discussed what to do with the current elementary building and campus once the move is made.
There is nothing wrong with the current elementary building, Robinson said, but gave a short list of why the move is happening.
"It helps make things easier to manage. It brings everyone closer together, cuts down on busing kids back and forth and having to transport food. It's a safety issue. We can also have the younger kids here for the pep rallies," Robinson said.
New, almost panoramic windows were installed at the current junior high building. Robinson said money for those upgrades were included in last year's budget.
Trustees are hard at work to find funding for all the projects on the table and have begun annual budget workshops that will include finding money for the renovations planned district wide. Robinson said it was hard to pinpoint how much state aide Milano ISD will receive.
"Funding for state education is like a moving target," Robinson said.
She added that as things progress and they start housing students in the new building, plans will be to hold an open house for the community.
The whole "switching around" idea has met some opposition in the community, but Robinson said the elected board of trustees is doing what they feel is best for Milano and its schools.
"Some people see this as change," Robinson said. "I see it as progress."
The current junior high building is a 1940 Works Project Administration facility, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.
The building was needed after consolidation with smaller country schools, including Smyrna, Summit, Sand Point, Sand Grove, Sipe Springs, Sandy Creek, Liberty, Hanover and Prospect.
Milano "East Elementary" was used as the segregated school for African-American students. MISD desegregated in 1965 and that school was conver ted into an elementary. The elementary school received two different additions in the late 1980s that added a total of six classrooms and a cafeteria.
Another building with four classrooms and a book room was completed in 1996.