Feedback from Community Engagement Workshop helps to inform upcoming capital project

Almost 30 DCS community members, teachers, staff and students participated in a virtual workshop Tuesday night, with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Niedermeier and representatives from Ashley McGraw Architects, to build a collective vision for the future of Duanesburg’s educational facilities and provide input on an upcoming capital project that will be voted on September 29, 2022. 

“We wanted the people who are going to be directly impacted by this project help us set the direction,” Niedermeier said. “This whole process is made stronger if we have a variety of different people.” 

Niedermeier started the presentation by letting the group know that the district is coming up on the 100-year anniversary of the construction of Delanson School (1923), which is still used today as part of the Duanesburg Jr./Sr. High School. The interior of the building – including the classrooms – have changed very little from when the building was constructed nearly 100 years ago. 

an old picture of a school
Duanesburg Junior High School (formerly Delanson School, built in 1923).

“Instruction, learning and technology have certainly changed a lot in the last 100 years. We need to start reimagining our learning spaces, with an eye on what we need from them and what is going to best suit our students,” Neidermeier said.

Updates to the Duanesburg Elementary School, which was constructed in 1953, will also be part of the capital project.

Why do a capital project now? The district will be ending a previous debt commitment, which Niedermeier explained is the best time to start a new project because it can be done so with minimal effect on taxpayers.

After voting on the project in September, the district would spend the next 6 months (Oct. ‘22 – April ‘23) designing the project. Construction would start in May of 2024, continue through August 2025 and be ready for occupancy in September 2025.

As part of Tuesday night’s workshop, participants were put into small work groups to brainstorm ideas and try to establish a shared vision with three priorities in mind – students and teachers, community, and programs and experiences. Each group reflected on their current impression of the district and also ideated how they would like to see the district change in the future. 

Common themes emerged from the small groups – like the need for more flexible learning spaces that are more conducive to collaboration, enhancements to outdoor areas for learning and socializing, classrooms that can accommodate hands-on instruction and learning, and an expansion of extracurricular activities for students to participate in at all levels.

“We want our schools to be places that people want to be because that has an impact on academic outcomes. Having excellent facilities and grounds helps us reach all of the goals in our strategic plan,” Niedermeier said.

Architects have completed walk-throughs of both buildings and have provided the district with reports on things that need to be replaced because of inefficiencies, old age or safety concerns. Community input from tonight’s workshop will help inform the next step of the capital project, which is scope identification. A second community workshop will be held in May, before the budgeting process is completed, and the fully-formed project will be presented to the community prior to the vote in September.

Please check out the presentation from Tuesday night, as well as notes on the community’s input.

Even if you missed the first workshop, it’s not too late to send us your input. Click here to provide your feedback on the vision for the future of DCS: 

Updates to the capital project and opportunities for community input will continue to be shared on the district website.