“Thompson Reinvented” Provides Opportunity for Community Discussion

Lori Hvizda Ward

I love musical theater. So I was interested to read about a local dinner theater’s plans for improvement. The owner plans an expansion that will include a larger kitchen to expedite meal service, a multi-tiered conference center, a workshop space for building sets and an expanded office area. The owner believes these additions will “improve the overall quality of our business,” according to a recent newspaper article.

My family of five lives in a 100+ year-old house. We love it and its location, but parts of it were not adequate for the way we live in this century. We had no real shower, only bathtubs. We don’t have a basement, just a cellar barely large enough for the washer, dryer and deep freezer. The kitchen had one tiny window, 30-year-old appliances and cupboards falling off the walls. Several years ago, we remodeled – expanding the kitchen, adding a bathroom with a shower, moving the laundry room out of the cellar and more. These additions definitely improved the overall quality of our lives.

What’s this got to do with Thompson School District? The Board of Education, in partnership with our education professionals, is tasked with continually improving the overall quality of the educational options we provide for our students. Sometimes that means purchasing new textbooks for an updated math or literacy curriculum. It might mean improving student access to current technology. It also means renovating, building and even possibly closing schools.

After over a year of hard work and creative thinking, the district’s Master Plan Committee has rolled out a plan called Thompson Reinvented. The committee, which is comprised of parents, educators, students and community members, was charged with creating a comprehensive development plan that improves efficiency and identifies growth needs, school consolidations and school reconfigurations. The plan is bold, innovative and exciting. It also comes with a price tag.

There will now be an opportunity for the Thompson community to view the plan and weigh in on its pros and cons. The Board could adopt parts of it, all of it or none of it. We could divide it up into phases to be completed over some future period. Whatever the Board does decide, our goal will be to improve the overall quality of the educational experience of our students.

When the owner of the dinner theater wanted to improve the experience of his customers, he knew it would cost money and he also knew it was an investment in the future success of his business. When we decided to renovate and add on to our house, you bet we knew it would cost money. But we also knew that we would improve the quality of our day-to-day living and that it would be an investment in the value of our home, our most valuable asset.

The same holds true with the physical assets of Thompson School District. If we want to provide our students with ever-improving educational opportunities, our buildings need to be safe, efficient and properly equipped. I believe that by investing in our physical assets now, we are making an investment in our children’s futures. You will be hearing and reading a lot about Thompson Reinvented over the next few months. I urge you to become educated about the plan and about the challenges we face with regard to our aging and overcrowded buildings, as well as those that are underutilized. And yes, there is a price tag. I choose to see it as an investment in our most valuable assets – our children.

Lori Hvizda Ward
Thompson School District Board of Education

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