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Embrace changes planned for school

Not too long ago, powerball fever hit the country. People were going crazy when the lottery prize topped several hundred million dollars.

We imagined what we would do with even a fraction of the prize money.

Boulder City has won its own version of the powerball, a $16.3 million prize from Clark County School District to renovate and update the high school and a group of determined teachers and residents don’t want it. What gives?

The funds are earmarked to build new classrooms and administrative offices, replacing those that were originally built in 1948. It is the second phase of a four-phase project that was promised in 1998. Only the first phase, featuring a new gymnasium and library, were built in 2004. The project has stagnated since then.

Because of the time that has passed since the plans were originally created, new schematics are being created. Granted, they have to adhere to Clark County School District standards for classroom size and work within their budget, but, according to Mark McGinty of SH Architecture, the company in charge of designing the new school, there is a bit of leeway in the overall appearance of the new buildings.

He said Boulder City’s history will be taken into consideration for the design.

Those opposed to the remodel are concerned about the size of the classrooms and absence of windows and natural light.

What about the absence of a proper heating and air-conditioning system? Earlier this school year, teachers were forced to move their classes outside because the air conditioning was not working.

The two-pipe system, which prevents using heat or air conditioning without completely shutting down one half of the system, is antiquated.

The electrical, computer and fire and life safety systems also need to be replaced.

There is also the issue of the students’ safety. The school currently has 57 points of access. Even though Boulder City is peaceful most of the time, consideration must be taken about the potential for a situation like those that happened in Columbine, Colo., or Newtown, Conn.

A group of dedicated teachers are suggesting that renovations be made to the existing buildings.

They aren’t pleased with the idea of losing about 200 square feet their classroom space. They don’t believe it is in the students’ best interest to be crammed into smaller spaces.

If designed like the classrooms at other district schools, there will be fewer windows and doors. One teacher went so far as to call the classrooms “prisonlike.”

Sure, Boulder City has its fair share of historic buildings that have been lovingly and painstakingly renovated and brought up to modern standards. And sometimes that is possible.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with Boulder City High School. It was deemed unsalvageable about a decade ago.

We understand that change is hard. But not all change is for the worse.

What is needed is a greater spirit of camaraderie. There has to be some give and take on both sides of the issue. This shouldn’t be a war between members of the old guard and those seeking change.

Councilman Cam Walker, who had helped lead the campaign to obtain the funding, invites public participation in the design process. He said plans are available for review at City Hall and he hopes a meeting can be held to answer questions and address concerns about the project.

It’s time to put differences aside and put the needs of the students first. Then and only then will this divisiveness disappear.

Change is coming whether we like it or not. It’s time to embrace it.

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