Morris Community High School considering building renovation plans

Part of our strategic plan at Morris Community High School involves taking a thorough look at our utilization of space and how we can improve our campus. The Board of Education approved the beginning stages of this undertaking in 2021, and we have been working with our architects to explore concept designs. We are still in the early discussion stages, as there is much to consider when evaluating the potential renovation or replacement of some or all buildings.

Our campus buildings have not had any major renovations in nearly half of a century, with most academic spaces not being updated in sixty to seventy years. Two of the biggest challenges of our campus have to do with security and mobility.

A potential first phase is a new wing that would connect to the main building and would more than replace the three outer buildings. This would eliminate the need for our students to travel outside to get from class to class. Safety and security are paramount considerations when we take a global look at our campus.

We also must address how challenging it is for people to navigate our campus using wheelchairs or crutches. The wheelchair lifts we use are very difficult and costly to maintain, and we are long overdue for an elevator. We owe it to our students, staff and visitors to modernize this aspect of our campus.

Some might think that a classroom is just a classroom, but the instruction we deliver today has evolved over the last several decades. Our science classrooms and other laboratory spaces need to be modernized, and even general classrooms need to better reflect the needs of today’s students and teachers. We also must consider the ongoing costs of maintaining aging facilities.

Our office spaces are scattered throughout the campus, so one of our goals is to create a more centralized “one-stop shop” for students and parents. This will also allow for greater efficiency among our office staff. We also need to create an updated cafeteria that better serves our students not just during lunch time, but for other multipurpose uses.

As we consider these and other needs, our discussion led us to a broader plan that would eventually replace all MCHS buildings. Doing that all at once would be challenging, given that we do not intend to move to another location. MCHS is well situated in a great location in the heart of Morris. Therefore, such a plan would most likely happen in phases over a period of time in order to minimize the impact on instruction.

None of these ideas will be quick, easy, or inexpensive to achieve, but the discussions and planning are vital because we must start somewhere and always be forward-thinking. As we continue to explore plans and costs, we look forward to involving the community in this process. Your input and support will be critical if we are to thoughtfully and responsibly provide for future generations of students at MCHS.