For most Millennials, using electronics is as natural as breathing air.
So it should be no surprise they’re taking to the new Steele High School creative learning center — what used to be called the library or media center — in droves.
Remodeled over the summer at a cost of $342,000, the high-tech space is being used all day long, at times filled with 100 or more students, said Amherst Schools technology supervisor Mark Kostur.
“That’s a far cry from how that room was being utilized before,” he said. “The kids are excited. The teachers are excited. And that’s a great thing.”
A ribbon-cutting was held Aug. 24 at the site, which is officially named the Amherst Schools Educational Foundation creative learning center.
In a special meeting the next day, board of education president Rex Engle raved about the comments the facility received not only from staff but even community members without students in the school.
“I think we need to come up with an action plan immediately for how to make this space available to them. I think that would enhance the vibe of the whole community,” he said. “The excitement is there. We want the public to be in this is space. It’s so user-friendly. It’s a great place to have a meeting.”
Engle said he wants to see a similar redesign of the Amherst Junior High School space. “I don’t think that library gets any use, either. I think it would be a great transition to begin working on that plan,” he said, urging a hunt for a financial partner to help cover the cost.
Amherst Schools leaders said they felt overwhelming enthusiasm from the public about the new CLC model, which pushes students to use tablets, large monitors, WiFi, and video equipment to work together to use what they’ve learned to make presentations.
“There is a positive energy out there,” said superintendent Steven Sayers.
“I can’t remember the last time this district was clicking on all cylinders the way it is now,” said board member Marc Zappa. “The people out there are seeing that. There’s no negativity out there.”
Not everyone is a fan of the new design, however. The News-Times has received about a dozen off-the-record complaints that the Steele CLC has no traditional books, instead using a digital library.
Educators said students who have grown up in the digital age don’t favor paper books. In fact, none had been checked out of the old Steele media since 2009.
In other school board news:
• The Steele High School football stadium was Mercy Health Stadium. The company purchased the naming rights for $240,000 over 12 years.
• Mercy also agreed to donate $5,000 to the Comets hockey program, which is starting up again this year after being benched for two. In addition, a contract was signed with the Elyria parks department to use that city’s North Park Ice Arena this winter. What is unclear at the moment is whether the schools will be responsible for busing players to the rink, Engle said.
• The Amherst Schools also signed a resolution required to accept $14.2 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, dependent on passage of a bond issue on the November ballot. If successful, the money would help pay for a new elementary school on North Lake Street. That would mean demolishing Harris Elementary and likely also Powers and Shupe.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Courtesy photo Amherst board of education members cut a ribbon Wednesday to officially open the Amherst Schools Educational Foundation creative learning center at Steele High School.