ABERDEEN — Several Aberdeen High School students will be heading back to middle school next year — not because they failed, but because there won’t be enough room for them.
Administrators in the Aberdeen School District confirmed Wednesday that a forthcoming remodel at the high school will force the relocation of two classrooms, a computer lab and the library to the nearby middle school in 2017-18.
“Things will be tight,” said Aberdeen High School librarian Joleen Waltman, “but we’re going to do everything we can to make it work.”
The decision comes in the midst of an upgrade to Aberdeen’s current high school. Last May, Aberdeen voters approved a $12 million bond to help fund the project. Last summer, construction crews broke ground on a large-scale addition now rising above the existing school’s corpus.
The new addition will house several classrooms and a new library, but won’t be finished until the 2018-19 school year. Workers have so far steered clear of the current school’s instructional space, but that will all change this summer.
In June, crews will begin an extensive remodel of an existing wing that now houses the library, computer lab and two science classrooms. The remodel is slated to last the duration of the 2017-18 school year — something that has a few educators concerned.
Waltman pointed to the array of books, tables and shelving lining the walls of her library. All of it will have to be moved — twice — in the next two years: once to the middle school in May to make room for workers, and again to the new high school when it’s completed in 2018-19.
Math and science teacher Tim Satterfield currently occupies two classrooms at Aberdeen, one of which he’ll have to vacate to make room for remodelers in the spring. Fortunately, he says, he’ll just relocate to his math room upstairs, away from all the noise.
Computer teacher, Aaron Spence, and science teacher, Brock Rose, will have to take their classrooms next door to the middle school next school year.
Aberdeen Middle School principal Ann Mennear acknowledged the project’s inconveniences, but said her much newer school is equipped for the extra teachers and their students.
Built in 2003, Aberdeen Middle School houses two computer labs, classrooms and a library larger than those at Aberdeen High.
Spence will get a spare room, Mennear said, and Rose will occupy one of the two computer labs.
Two new carts of Chromebooks, provided via a recent grant, will soften the blow of computer space lost to incoming high schoolers, Mennear added: “Many of (the students) will be able to use the Chromebooks in other areas.”
She also pointed to spare space in the middle school library. The struggle, she said, won’t be fitting in the extra books and shelving; it will be keeping the high school and middle school content separate — something best dealt with after the move this summer.
Meanwhile, Mennear will be asking her teachers to step up their “hallway presence” in an effort to discourage bullying and high school boys coming over to “pick up” on middle school girls.
In addition to larger classrooms and a library, Aberdeen’s new high school will include a 400-seat auditorium, an auxiliary gym and an agriculture shop. Despite a recent round of snow closures, Ward said everything is still on track to be completed in 2018-19.
“It’s coming along slowly but surely,” she said.
The bond for the new high school is slated to replace the one for the middle school, which comes off the books this year. According to the district, patrons won’t see an increase on their property taxes.
Aberdeen is a farming community of roughly 2,000 people, located 40 miles west of Pocatello.