Community Offers Input on Plans for Heard Elementary | Community Spirit
More than 100 parents and community members attended a community information session on Tuesday, September 24, seeking input on the design of the new Heard Elementary School.
“We want to build something in this community that this community can be very proud of,” Interim Superintendent Dr. E. Steven Smith said. “There’s a lot of tradition that goes back in this community. I grew up in Macon. I know what this community means to Macon and Bibb County, and we want to create an institution that will be just as treasured as this current institution is.”
Jason Daniel, the new Executive Director of Capital Programs, said plans call for construction of the new school to begin in January 2014 and for work to be completed by December 2014. The new school will be built on property adjacent to the old school so that students and teachers will not be disturbed during the construction process. The plan is for students to attend the old school until December, and move into the new school after winter break.
“It’s a very aggressive schedule and I hope we can hold to it - that’s our goal,” he said.
The school will be built for 750 students with the capability of expanding to 900 students if needed. Plans call for the space to house about 50 classrooms.
It is also the District’s intent to preserve as much of the school’s history as possible. It was first built in 1912 as Rutland School, which housed all grade levels. Then, in 1925 Rutland became a grammar school and the high school students were moved to Lanier the following year.
In 1933, Rutland School closed to make way for the current Heard Elementary School, which opened in 1934. The cost to build the school at the time was $32,880.
“I know there’s a lot of history here at this school and our intent is to reuse and bring whatever is over at this building into the new building. Whatever we can salvage, we want to make sure we keep it and keep the historic nature of Heard Elementary going along with the new school,” Mr. Daniel said. “The main goal I have is to build a school that the community will be proud of.”
Pictures from Heard’s early years adorn the walls of the school’s entrance, and the administration even keeps a book with the school’s entire history. Principal Sandra Stanley said a historian will catalog many of the items and Assistant Principal Carol Cote said they hope to create a scrapbook with all of the old photos.
“We have a world of history out here. We want to preserve all of that, and we want a History Room where parents can come and visit,” Mrs. Stanley said.
Mike Shepard is one of those featured in the many pictures along the walls. He attended Heard Elementary School from 1956 through the early 1960s, and his daughter attended Heard as well. His father attended when it was still Rutland School.
Mr. Shepard said he attended the meeting to offer input regarding traffic.
“I want to make sure they control the traffic,” he said. “I don’t want them routing the traffic through somebody else’s neighborhood because there are also plans to put a recreation park back there. I just want to make sure that it doesn’t go through people’s neighborhoods to get there.”
Neighbor June Bryant was also in attendance. Mrs. Bryant and her father both attended Heard Elementary School.
With property adjacent to the school, she said she was at the meeting because, “it’s important to me what it looks like and where it’s located, and I want to save some of the trees. So many developers these days just flatten everything, and I just don’t think you have to build that way. You can clear the land where the building is going to be but you can save some of the trees so that you have a canopy to keep the kids and the school cool.”
School secretary Melissa Bryant told designers that she would like for them to find a way to ease carpool congestion.
“I was a Heard parent long before I was an employee,” she said. “I would like to have one road coming in, and somewhere else going out, because we have more carpool students than we have bus students and we back up to the church every day.”
Other parents and community members said they wanted to see updated computers and better technology in the school, an auditorium for student performances, and a better gymnasium.
“We want a nice gymnasium - we need one,” said parent Andre Howard. “The kids are outside playing in the rain - they’ve got to have somewhere. We talk about obesity in the school and we’ve got to give them an outlet.”
Board of Education members Susan Sipe and Lester Miller were also in attendance to hear suggestions and concerns.
“I’m actually here tonight with two different hats on - one, I am a school board member, and the other hat is I’m grandparent of a child who attends Heard Elementary,” Mrs. Sipe said. “Both my son and my daughter went here, and now I have a granddaughter here and she is so excited about getting a new school. My hope is that we can preserve all the history from this school, but at the same time give the teachers what they need and better tools to actually work with our students.”
Those who were unable to attend the meeting but still wish to provide input about the design of the new school may send an e-mail to Dr. Smith or Mr. Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Letters regarding future plans may also be dropped off in the school’s front office.