JOPLIN, Mo. —
Reaction appeared mostly supportive Thursday night among the roughly 50 people who attended a community meeting at which architects presented their preliminary site plans for the future combined Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center.
Architect Chad Greer of Corner Greer & Associates, of Joplin, and Kevin Greischer of DLR Group, of Overland Park, Kan., consultants to CGA, presented design plans that were approved by the Board of Education in a meeting Wednesday night. The firms are the same ones that designed the temporary campus at Northpark Mall, which was the site of the community meeting.
“I’m really liking the layout and the separate buildings,” said JHS sophomore Preston Miller. “I’m hoping that although they have the covered bridges, we can walk on the grounds from building to building because that was just a nice part of the school. At the rose garden, you could just take a breath of fresh air.”
The Board of Education has approved a $62 million bond issue for the April 3 ballot. The bonds, district officials say, would offset costs not covered by state and federal aid, insurance and donations for the rebuilding of schools destroyed in the May 22 tornado, along with community safe rooms across the district, and renovations and repairs to undamaged elementary schools. The total project cost is estimated at $185 million. The high school project cost is estimated at $104 million.
Some who attended the meeting said they liked the vision of the district, but they want to know more and are worried about the bond issue’s possible impact, especially on the elderly with fixed incomes, those directly affected by the tornado and those affected by the economy in general.
“It’s a big concern we keep hearing over and over,” said Virginia Denham, a member of the JHS class of 1951. “We have always supported the schools, and we probably still will. But there are a lot of questions out there about the bond. I think they need to get more answers out. There are whole sections of houses gone, and (the schools) aren’t getting that revenue.”
Denham said the preliminary designs were too vague to really imagine, but she liked that the new school is to be integrated into a hillside, possibly affording it more protection.
Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer gave a presentation about the school district’s vision for the new career-cluster curriculum that will focus on five career paths: business/information technology, technical sciences, human services, arts/communication, and health sciences.
One attendee, Paul Mosbaugh, of the JHS class of 1957, said he thought the integration of JHS and Franklin Technical Center was a good idea, and likely would change the outlook of some JHS students regarding the students who attend trade classes at the technical center.
“I went to the vocational school when I was in high school, and at that time, everybody kind of looked down on us,” Mosbaugh said. “So I dropped out of vocational school and went just full time as a student for senior high. I think this will help people relate to them, and they won’t look down on them.”
Several high school students who attended the meeting said they were excited about the new direction of the school’s curriculum, and how the building design was influenced by it. JHS senior Nontapoth Vongkittiargorn, who someday wants to be a biomedical engineer, said he likes the idea of students trying out careers while they’re still in high school so they can be prepared for the real world. He also has a more personal reason for his interest in the future school.
“The very first thing I’m really interested in is seeing the new ideas,” Vongkittiargorn said. “Also, my brother, who is 2 years old right now, may be participating in this whole program eventually, so I’m here for my family.”
Greer said he hopes to have more conceptual images to present to the school board by the end of the month. From there, he said, the architects will present those images and gather more feedback from students, staff members and residents.
AFTER THE MEETING, attendees could tour the temporary 11th- and 12th-grade campus at Northpark Mall.