KINGSPORT — Kingsport needs to acquire any available property around Dobyns-Bennett High School for school use and facilities expansions, especially inside the triangle of Fort Henry Drive, Center Street and Eastman Road.
And curriculum at D-B needs to be revamped, including major technology upgrades that change how learning is delivered, what courses are offered (including new courses in career technical education) and scheduling.
Those are what D-B Principal Chris Hampton sees as essential elements of a forthcoming nine-month study of D-B’s future in the next five, 10 and 15 years.
A committee to be headed by Hampton is looking at the city’s entire high school program, which Superintendent Lyle Ailshie said is an effort to let program needs drive facility proposals.
Ailshie said ideas include a Business and Marketing Academy at D-B, partnering with the Kingsport Center for Higher Education downtown, increased technology usage, and possible use of the Midland Center for D-B cosmetology or other classes. Kingsport Board of Education members also have discussed the idea of trading the Midland Center across the street from D-B for the former Highway Patrol building the city has on the D-B side of Fort Henry, near the veterans memorial.
However, Ailshie said most of those things will take a back seat until the final committee report comes out in June or July 2013.
“I just hope we can dream big enough,” Hampton told Ailshie recently in a meeting.
Thursday night, Hampton said the committee’s task includes looking at the modified block scheduling, which has worked well for 16 years but can cause issues by limiting access to singleton classes and to career technical education classes.
He has dubbed the effort Dobyns-Bennett 2.0: Next Step for Curriculum and Facilities.
“It’s scary to go on that journey from being good to being excellent.” Hampton said.
Since the goal is a long-range plan for D-B’s curriculum and facilities, Hampton said the process will take about nine months.
BOE President Randy Montgomery pointed out that would make it difficult to get much in the 2013-14 budget, but Hampton said it is important to do a thorough study and have time to “think out of the box” about what would be best for D-B students.
BOE member Andy King asked if there was an existing master or strategic plan for D-B. Aside from a systemwide plan and handling issues as they come along, Hampton and BOE member Betsy Cooper said there was no formal D-B plan.
BOE Vice President Carrie Upshaw cited the changes in education — including the move from No Child Left Behind to the Tennessee Diploma Project and now the Common Core.
“We can’t just keep doing business the way we’ve been doing it,” Upshaw said.
BOE member Susan Lodal said enrollment growth through annexation is another issue the future plan must address.
Hampton said D-B’s future needs include enlarging the Nancy Pridemore Theatre beyond the current 500 capacity. He said schoolwide student meetings end up being four separate meetings — one for each grade level — and that while the gym is large enough, it is not acoustically suited for such assemblies.
In addition, he said finalizing the master plan for athletics and outdoor facilities for the campus — including proposed improvements and grandstands expansion at J. Fred Johnson Stadium — also would work into the facilities plan.
He said maintenance and upkeep also is an ongoing concern, including replacement of carpet in the building.
Classroom space for the Business and Marketing Academy is needed, as is an enlarged greenhouse, enlarged cosmetology area with better public parking, enlarged automotive program areas and sinks in health sciences classrooms, as well as an EMS simulator, blood donation areas, hospitals beds, etc.
Also, he said the broadcasting classrooms need to be converted into a studio.
The curriculum, he said, needs to be expanded to add a family and consumer science program.
Hampton said plans are to collaborate with business and industries on curriculum.
Hampton said the focus on clustered electives and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is important, with CTE mirroring skills and standards needed by business and industry.
He also said the system should work with the city to get as accurate a prediction as possible for enrollment in the next 15 years.
Hampton said the goal is for students to get a world-class education so they can get a good job “whether they’re in Shanghai or Surgoinsville.”