Superintendent Mark Twomey said the middle school was combined with the high school about a quarter-century ago with the idea that it was just a temporary fix. So he feels a change is long overdue.
“I believe the Macomb School District needs to find a plan to get the middle school kids out of the high school. Both sets of those kids, we’re not offering them everything we could offer if they had their own space,” said Twomey.
“We’ve been kicking that can around now for 25 years. I believe it’s our responsibility, and I think the board does too, to find a solution to create an educational environment that really maximizes the potential for all of our kids.”
Twomey said an idea that might work is to build a new, multi-purpose, shared building in collaboration with the city, the park district, McDonough District Hospital, and the YMCA.
He said the idea has been kicked around informally for months. He said the group recently received a presentation from Chicago-based architectural firm Risinger and Associates, which built a similar facility in Wadsworth, OH.
The Macomb Board of Education this week agreed to spend up to $50,000 for a feasibility study by Risinger. The other entities have yet to commit money, though Twomey hoped all will do so by the end of November. He said the study could cost in the range of $160,000-$180,000.
As for their reasons for being interested in the new facility:
- The school district would get a new middle school for grades six through eight.
- MDH could use it to enhance its aqua therapy program.
- The YMCA feels collaboration could help it improve the level of services and programs offered.
- The park district needs new office space and it would like a better facility for indoor programming.
- The city could locate a new pool there.
The feasibility study will determine whether such a facility is possible for Macomb. It will also recommend potential sites for the building and how the funding should be divvied up between the taxing bodies and the private entities.
“It’s definitely going to be a complex issue,” Twomey said about the funding.
The superintendent said he does not know if this is the best path for the school district to take -- that will be determined by the study.