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Posted on Aug 30, 2019

A back-to-school like no other: Column

By Dave Burgess

Next week, parents will send their children back to school. It’s an annual change for families that brings out excitement, trepidation and certainly new opportunities.
There will be the usual hugs of parents and children and the usual apprehension about a new school year. But this time, back-to-school will be different from any before it in Quincy Valley, and probably unlike any to come in the future. The community has a new high school, a renovated middle school and a newly created elementary school in a thoroughly redesigned and updated building.
Parents, children and school staff will be amazed at the new facilities and maybe a little lost at times. Besides finding their way around new buildings, they have to navigate new attendance zones and grade brackets in the buildings, and new bus routes.
You could say Quincy School District has been busy. Very busy – for three years, since voters approved a landmark $108 million bond issue. And the results are here, on time, for the 2019-2020 school year.
Touring the new high school earlier this month, construction workers were busy inside and outside. Some observers might have wondered whether the new campus will be ready for classes on Sept. 3. District leaders say it will, and I am confident it will be.
Viewing the outstanding facility, school board director Chris Baumgartner drew a comparison to making butter. You churn and churn the liquid, and you can’t tell that it is working until it solidifies suddenly into butter and you are done.
The making butter analogy sat well with Susan Lybbert, president of the school board. It has been a long process, she said, but the board of directors is glad the district is delivering on everything it promised and did not compromise along the way.
The three-year plan outlined after the bond measure was approved in 2016 has been kept, and that is a huge accomplishment. It was done in smart ways, in steps. Earlier in the process, the district expanded George Elementary, including a gym, and gyms were added at Pioneer and Mountain View as well. Mechanical updates, functional improvements, security improvements, renovation of surfaces and technology upgrades across the district are too numerous to detail.
The unprecedented building, renovating and remodeling campaign transformed the school district. The project as a whole is probably the largest in the careers of many involved. Be sure to congratulate the people who made it happen at the two open houses planned: the Ancient Lakes Elementary grand opening is Sept. 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m.; and the high school grand opening is Sept. 14, 3:30-7:30 p.m.
Note that even with so much construction, there is something the district did not do: It did not build itself a shiny new office building. Administration headquarters is still in an older building on J Street SW. The leaders of the district kept education of children first.
So, hats off to the elected directors of the school board and the district administrators. It is going to be a great school year.

Dave Burgess is the editor of The Quincy Valley Post-Register. What do you think of the new high school and other changes in Quincy School District? Send your letters to the editor at