Community Forum: School needs investment

By Mary Booher


It is time to re-invest in our school.

The Conners Emerson School needs to be revitalized with a major investment in infrastructure. Teaching facilities are barely adequate in some places and there just isn’t room for the many diverse educational needs of a contemporary approach to teaching and learning. Existing spaces, in particular the ones at Conners, are very old and simply cannot be fixed up with new paint and trim. Parking, ingress and egress are congested and put pedestrians and vehicles into direct conflict at least twice a day.

Wholesale demolition is required to be able to construct a modern building with modern amenities for a modern — and energy efficient — world.

If you have children in the school, you are regularly reminded that the facility is old and decrepit, from several water damage incidents to convoluted entrances. Take a stroll through the school and look up at the ceiling to see wiring and all sorts of pipes overhead so low you can easily reach them with a short jump.

There’s no proper stage for drama or other performances. Other schools have a vibrant drama program. Our school has none. We have two music teachers but only one music classroom. Our teachers spend a lot of their time moving furniture and instruments to convert from one mode of learning to another. There is no space large enough for a school-wide event.

Now let’s imagine a building or buildings with private one-on-one spaces, a medium space for small groups such as a second-grade class sharing a play they prepared with the other second grade classes and an auditorium for all students to attend a lecture or other shared learning event. All of these would support improved learning for our students.

I’ve visited other schools as a volunteer and am amazed at the facilities other communities have built for their kids, but also for themselves. Schools can be a center of the community once the kids have left for the day. They can be a hub of activity for programs that take advantage of a wonderful facility and benefit all residents. Imagine how the school might be used for book groups, discussion groups, craft groups, community theater or music performances.

If you haven’t set foot at Conners Emerson School in years because your kids are grown, it’s time to give your voice to renovating this essential facility and offer your vision for what could be. And if you’ve never set foot there, perhaps you have ideas for what an agile facility could provide above and beyond public education.

Join the school board and staff Tuesday, April 30, at 5:30 p.m. at the school for a workshop to learn about the options being considered for renovations to the buildings.

Mary Booher has been involved with Conners Emerson School for 48 years as a parent, grandparent and volunteer. She’s also a member of the Bar Harbor Town Band, which rehearses at the school.

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