“It's exciting,” she said as she loaded up a large cabinet in the corner of her new classroom in Dundee's new $30 million high school. “Today is the first time I've been in here, and I spent about an hour this morning checking it out.
“Everything is so clean and new,” the 30-year teacher said, hunching her shoulders and hushing her voice, as if someone might be offended that her classroom had undergone such a dramatic upgrade in its facilities.
Voters in Dundee approved a $30 million bond issue in September 2000 to pay for the new 165,000-square-foot high school as well as updates and renovations to the old high school and junior high buildings.
The bond issue added more than 4.5 mills to the property taxes of Dundee residents for the next 28 years. One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
But when residents get their first close look at what their tax dollars have purchased, they're likely to be overwhelmed.
The brick-and-stone building is split into two wings, one that houses most of the academic classrooms and the other that hosts the athletic and industrial arts areas.
The showpiece of the academic wing is a state-of-the-art media center - what, in years past, used to be called a library. With its low-slung dark cherry shelving and two walls of shaded windows, the center looks like a Japanese tea room with computers.
Attached to the center is the distance learning lab, a darkened room where banks of new desktop computers will allow Dundee students to take a variety of courses from schools and colleges across the world.
Elsewhere in the academic wing, the new school has its own internal television studio and computer labs where rows of computers are at different heights to allow instructors to watch all that their young charges are doing.
The school's new gymnasium and natatorium in the athletic and industrial arts wing of the building is sure to both impress local taxpayers and intimidate competing athletes. In order to reach those rooms, visitors will have to walk through Dundee's athletic Hall of Fame, two banks of lighted showcases about 15 feet high that will be filled with trophies and jerseys from past athletic successes.
“It's a wonderful building. It's going to be a great learning environment,” said principal Jacqueline Schultz, a native of Swanton. “There are so many great things in this building for kids.”
The new high school is so large and impressive that Mrs. Schultz and other district officials have agreed to extend the time students have between their classes by one minute each to give students more time to get to where they're going.
“If we have a kid who has to go from an industrial arts class to English, that's going to be quite a haul,” Mrs. Schultz said.
Students have been largely kept out of the building since construction began, Mrs. Schultz said, and most won't get their first look until school starts Monday.
“I think the kids are going to be pretty excited when they get in here,'' Mrs. Schultz said.