People have asked me what my vision is for Springdale School. What follows is my vision for Springdale School. It is a visionary work of fiction, but a work of fiction that could become a reality.
The Corbett Arts Program at Springdale School
The First Ten Years
Today I followed our new electric school bus down Bell road. The bus was filled with high school students headed down to the CAP (Corbett Arts Program at Springdale School). It struck me as appropriate that the high school kids who were being transported down to the Springdale School to participate in Corbett’s drama program were riding in the vehicle that was paid for by the revenue generated by the programming at Springdale School. The image of those kids getting off our newest bus, walking into the refurbished Springdale School gave me pause and inspired me to share with you a reflection about the last 10 years.
The doors opened for the first time for phase-one of the CAP at Springdale School. We started with 6 classrooms in the K-8 program, two K-2 classrooms, two 3-5 classrooms, and two 6-8 classrooms. Resident students embraced the opportunity to participate in a K-8 program that focused on the arts. After resident students claimed their space in the new program non-resident students were allowed to fill the program to capacity.
Modeled after the programing on the main campus in the grade school, Columbia River Gorge Studies, and middle school, community building, the CAP blended their own central focus, the arts, with a commitment to creating a K-8 community. The 150 students who helped launch the program with the staff enjoyed the hallmarks of Corbett School District in their multi-age classrooms where the teachers held each student to a continuous progress standard. Academic preparation for students in the CAP at Springdale School mirrored the highly successful preparation all students received on the main campus to include reading, writing, and mathematics programming that allowed all students to access materials that were at their zone of proximal development. Integrated into these core beliefs was a focus on the arts that produced an array of memorable achievements. Highlights of that first year included:
- The First Annual CAP Student Art Exposition
- The Formation of the CAP and Columbia River Gorge Artisan Partnership
- CAP’s First Theater in the Round Production
- Artist in Resident Program
- The launch of the CAP partnership with Corbett Children’s Theater (CCT) to co-produce plays for students in the CAP, Corbett School, and other schools from the area.
- Springdale School Community Association (SSCA) continued to support efforts to renovate and care for the Springdale School.
By design, phase-two of the refurbishment project of Springdale School took several years to complete. The original 1931 portion of the Springdale School building was completely refurbished to make space for the satellite drama program offered by Corbett School. Corbett High School students, many of whom started in the K-8 CAP, began spending a portion of each day studying drama in the Springdale School. High school students, as well as students in the K-8 CAP, welcomed the addition of the renovated stage area as well as the new auditorium seating in the Springdale School. Highlights from this time period included:
- Up to 150 high school students per day attended Springdale School for a portion of their day.
- The first production of a Corbett High play in two decades.
- CAP productions featuring the K-8 students attending the CAP.
- Joint CAP, Corbett School, and CCT Productions.
- CCT community theater productions.
- Corbett School District received up to $500,000 in grants to finish the refurbishment of the historic Springdale School.
The Springdale School continued to serve as an asset for Corbett School District by housing the K-8 CAP as well as satellite courses for Corbett High School. Some of those first CAP students from the 2012-2013 school year matriculated out of the CAP, into Corbett High and have moved on to experiences in liberal arts universities all over the country.
The CAP continued to gain in popularity and each year we have had far more interest in the program than capacity. Due to the facility functioning at capacity, it has served as a cash positive revenue source for Corbett School District for the past decade.
Finances in Review:
- 2011 Corbett School District takes out a one million dollar interest free loan to refurbish Springdale School. The loan has a 17 year payback period and saves the district more than $250,000 in interest fees!
- 2011-2013 Corbett School District works with a professional grant writing firm as well as the SSCA to generate up to $500,000 in grant funding for the Springdale project.
- 2011 Corbett School District commits to paying off the 1 million dollar loan and all other expenses incurred as a result of the Springdale project through proceeds from the operation of the CAP.
- 2012 the Corbett School Board commits to using extra revenues to pay off the Springdale loan as quickly as possible.
- In 2012-13 the CAP begins operation. By expanding the district’s student body the CAP generates more revenue than it requires to operate the program.
- By 2020 Corbett School District pays off the entire loan in the minimum time period allowed, 9 years ahead of schedule.
- In 2021 Corbett School District purchases two new electric buses with proceeds from the Springdale School and begins upgrading the entire transportation fleet.
- In 2022 community support for District facility construction projects is at an all-time high because the Springdale School was refurbished without costing tax payers one penny and the entire project was paid off in record time.
- In 2023 Corbett School District passes a construction bond to begin massive renovation of the main campus middle school building and high school building.
In 1931 residents of Springdale and Corbett made the decision to build something for their community that would be an asset for generations, the Springdale School. In 2011 Corbett School District took a long term view like those people did in the 1930’s and committed to refurbishing the Springdale School. I am proud to have been a part of this decision knowing that it has benefited kids and our community for the last 10 years and will continue to benefit kids and our community for generations to come. Springdale School has manifested itself as a gateway project to remaking our district facilities and programming. The Springdale project has created a sense of pride in our facilities and a desire to see all of our facilities upgraded to a standard befitting Corbett School District students and the community the district serves.
Yours in education,
Obviously, this is fiction. But it isn’t JUST fiction. It is a vision, my vision. I hope and believe this vision can become reality. There are some critical components of my vision for Springdale School that I want to make as clear as possible. These components include:
Springdale School will be used to expand programming for Corbett Students. I am not advocating spending time and money refurbishing the building to expand the District’s Charter School, to add another Charter School, or to rent out to some other company.(I have edited this line for clarity,see next line, but wanted to be sure to show the original posted text in the interest of transparency. RT)
- Springdale School will be used to expand programming for Corbett resident students first. I am not advocating spending time and money refurbishing the building to expand the District’s current charter school (CCS), to add another, new charter school, or to rent out to some other company. This is an opportunity designed to expand opportunities for resident students of Corbett Schools, with any remaining opportunities made available to non-resident students.
- A focus on the arts as the primary touchstone for Springdale school is one possible option for its use…..an option that we already know for which there is a strong demand. Corbett used to have performing arts, but through the years we have had to cut out different parts of our programing to maintain ourselves as a viable district. Springdale represents an opportunity to ADD something back!
- Waiting to refurbish Springdale School will only cost more money. The Board has a time critical opportunity to take out an interest free loan to fix the property. We have been building toward this decision point for more than a year. This is not a knee jerk decision. If the Board puts off taking out the loan it will cost more than a quarter million in interest alone.
- The CAP program can generate more revenue than it costs. This represents a positive cash flow and the only feasible way to refurbish the historic Springdale School.
- Refurbishing the Springdale School represents an investment in the community. It benefits the students and community now and will benefit them for decades to come.
- If Springdale School is not refurbished it represents a liability for the district that will cost tens of thousands of dollars to maintain each year and hundreds of thousands of dollars to demolish or sell.
- My intention, and one I hope the board will adopt, is that we pay off loans associated with the cost of Springdale School as quickly as possible.
- By demonstrating to the community that the district can wisely manage our facilities I believe there is a greater possibility that we can gain community support for more extensive repairs that we need around campus.
- My intention is to stay in Corbett! Some people have suggested that Corbett is some “stepping stone” for me on my way to a bigger job. This is not the case at all! While it is true that I could find work elsewhere, I have invested in this community. I moved my family here. For eight years I have poured myself into this district. I want my kids to graduate from Corbett and I want Corbett to be a place that all kids proudly call their alma mater. Refurbishing Springdale School will keep the district strong. It will be better for my kids. It will be better for all kids! If the kids benefit we all benefit.
Yours in education,