School Improvement … In Quarantine?

Just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we can’t consider improvements to our school


Riley Baker

Students and staff provided many creative ideas for possible additions to the school building.

We can’t change the building anymore this year, but being in quarantine has given us time to imagine what we could possibly add to improve our school.
Recently, our school has taken on some big projects. We added the ACE building during the 2018-219 school year which cost approximately $1.2 million, according to Micheal Gerlach, the Director of Business Services. Half of the money was donated by donors in the community, and the other half was contributed by the School District. This addition has allowed students to learn about the terminology, careers, and skills common to the construction industry by using hands-on learning.
Earlier this school year, many community members, students, and staff were hoping to add a new track and turf at the High school. In fact, according to a survey given by the Cardinal Columns, 12.8 percent of students and 19.4 percent of staff wanted to add this facility to the high school. The goal was to provide a playing surface that is a more durable surface to maximize availability for all stakeholders, according to Athletic Director David Michalkiewicz. An improved surface would impact more than 700 student-athletes, 1,800 students in the High School PE programs, more than 150 FHS Marching Band students and countless children in the Recreation Department and community youth organizations.

If not a new turf, then what would our school community want to add?

Students and staff were very creative when thinking of new additions. The most popular idea was adding a “rolling start”. Almost 28 percent of students and 16.1 percent of teachers voted that they wanted a rolling start at the high school. A rolling start means that students would have the option to start their day at 7 am, 8 am, or 9 am. Principal Matt Steinbarth said this concept already exists for seniors, and students have the option to do Zero Hour. Steinbarth said the real struggle of adding this would be finding staff members who show interest.
Another popular idea among students and staff was adding a swimming pool. This would be a pretty costly project, but 18.3 percent of students and 9.7 percent of staff believe that this would be a great addition to our school.
The final idea that our students and staff had in common was the need for more school therapists/counselors. According to Michele Burns-Johnson, a counselor at Fond du Lac High School, the counselors currently have double the amount of students than they should have, which makes it difficult for students to have a one on one relationship with their counselor. Many think that we need more staff in the student services department. More specifically, 29 percent of teachers and 5.5 percent of students. Even Steinbarth agrees that adding more staff to that department would be valuable for students. “Counselors and social workers benefit all students and those are the things that the school board normally looks at and says ‘what can we do to support that kind of stuff?’,” Steinbarth said.

What would be the chances of adding these?

Even though a high percentage of students voted to add escalators, Steinbarth and Gerlach don’t believe that the school board would go for it. “I think it’s good for students to be at least physically fit enough to walk the steps,” Steinbarth said.
Even though the escalators don’t have a high probability, the rolling start, a popular idea among teachers and students could be a possibility. “(Its)Not something I would say we could or couldn’t do,” said Steinbarth. However, the school board would have to figure out the logistics since a rolling start could change teacher’s salaries.
The most probable of these additions would be adding more staff in the Student Services Department. With the increasing demand for more counselors and therapists, Steinbarth believes that the school board would most likely agree to this. “We do have some grants coming into Fond du Lac that will hopefully get us some more of that in the very near future,” said Steinbarth. The only difficulty is finding people who are trained and qualified. “I do think there’s a need for social workers and counselors and things like that because I think it does meet the needs of all kids,” said Steinbarth.
If it were up to Steinbarth, he would add everything that our students and teachers want because it is important. “That’s why I’m here, I want what’s best for our students and Fondy High,” said Steinbarth. “But I don’t have all the control of the money. And that might be a good thing because I might put us into bankruptcy,” Steinbarth joked.
Now that we are all in quarantine, we can start working on proposals to put these plans into action. We can also think of ways to improve our high school in order to have a better/more enjoyable high school experience. Because if this quarantine has taught us anything it’s not to take anything for granted, and make the most of your time in high school, because it goes faster than you think.