The Valley Central School District, in preparation for Walden Elementary School’s future, held a forum on January 31, in the school at 75 Orchard Street, where attendees toured the building and provided feedback for improvements.
Evette Avila, the district superintendent, explained at the forum that she and the Board of Education seek to address the school building’s conditions and ensure that it remains a great learning environment for current and future students.
“Walden is going to be 100 in two years,” Avila said. “We need to make sure that Walden Elementary School is prepared so our children have the best learning opportunities.”
Walden Elementary was originally established in 1926 as a K12 school and was eventually converted into an elementary school. The building underwent numerous changes over the decades, including the addition of a new wing and the removal of the gymnasium’s balcony. The Valley Central district wants to continue renovating the school and tend to its aging conditions, such as the lack of air conditioning in some rooms and leaks. Handicap support, in particular, is a major issue for the building; if a student sustains an injury that requires them to use a wheelchair, they would need to be transferred to a different school with handicap support until they recover.
The forum opened with a presentation detailing the district’s five-year plan for the school, broken into three phases. First, the district will conduct reports, gather feedback from the community, and compare the school to others in the area. Next, the district will share its results and decide on its plans. Lastly, the school will initiate the design process, submit its plans to the New York State Department of Education, and search for bids.
Following the presentation, students and faculty members split the attendees into four groups and took them on tours around the school. These groups climbed up and down stairwells, strolled through the hallways, and visited the building’s many classrooms, offices, and restrooms. District members also encouraged attendees to take notes along the way, whether they were questions or suggestions.
“It’s been through a lot of changes throughout the years,” Avila said during the tour.
After the tours wrapped up, everyone returned to the cafeteria and the district’s members provided attendees with a QR code for an online survey. The answers from the survey will help the district form a plan that best addresses the community’s needs.
“All things will be determined by the survey,” said Gregory Heidemann, principal of the Walden Elementary.
Missed Wednesday’s forum? The district will hold several tours throughout the year, including during fall, as they continue compiling feedback. More information can be found on the school’s website at vcsd.k12.ny.us/walden-elementary/.