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Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

On the move at Minster schools

By Margie Wuebker

Austin Baumer, a student worker at Minster Local Schools, polishes the commons f. . .

MINSTER - Minster Local Schools officials will open two buildings instead of three for the upcoming year.
Board of education members decided in December to close the three-story elementary building along North Hanover Street to save $320,000.
The former middle school, located off Seventh Street at the foot of Hanover Street, will be home to elementary students in grades K-6. Seventh- and eighth-graders, once located at the middle school, are moving to the high school building.
"The staff has worked tremendously to make sure everything is in readiness for Aug. 24," superintendent Brenda Boeke said. "Consolidation has been a collaborative effort involving the entire staff and a lot of meetings."
Student enrollment has slowly declined over the years and is now at 850. No decision has been made about the future of the closed building.
"We had to be creative with some spaces," Boeke said. "No area was immune from changes."
Walls were removed from the offices of the superintendent, treasurer Laura Klosterman, administrative secretary Brenda Young and the board of education conference room to create classroom space in the high school.
The administrative offices and the board meeting room are now at the elementary building.
Maintenance supervisor Tim Jay helped move staff and students from one building to another in 2003, when the middle school opened.
"Now that was a challenge," he admitted with a chuckle. "Construction at the new building and remodeling at the high school were nearing completion. I remember walking into the gym and seeing desks and chairs stacked 8- to 10-feet tall."
Additional student workers were hired to assist with the current consolidation, boosting the maintenance staff to 20.
"The consolidation appears to be a win-win situation for everyone involved," Boeke said. "Everything is now on one floor, and we look forward to having high school students come over as tutors."  
Michelle Link, a special education teacher for grades K-4, is in the process of decorating her new classroom and storing boxes of supplies.   
"My old classroom was on the third floor," she said. "This arrangement will be easier on the students, and air conditioning will certainly help those with breathing problems. The other building had no air conditioning."
Boeke pointed out concessions were needed to accommodate younger students, such as cutting down the height of the elementary office counter and lowering Smart boards, bulletin boards and bathroom fixtures. Technology coordinator Greg Berning has been running between buildings addressing computer needs.
The school schedule has been staggered - 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. for high school students and 8:15 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. for younger ones.
Information regarding additional bus stops and traffic patterns will be included in the August newsletter.
Students and parents are encouraged to attend the ice cream social/open house 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 21 at both buildings. The Minster Academic Boosters will be selling school supplies.
"We hope parents as well as students will come and see all the changes," Boeke said.
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