Clear Lake School Board discusses possible options for Sunset School building


By Michelle Watson

The Clear Lake School Board held a planning session on Monday night, Nov. 12, where plans were considered to use the former Sunset Elementary School to house the Lakeside Alternative Program as well as a New Tech Network Model regional academy.

A few months ago Clear Lake approached Garner-Hayfield/Ventura Superintendent Tyler Williams to explore the possibility of housing the Alternative Program at Sunset.

“Mr. Williams approached me and we discussed it,” said Lorene Dykstra, coordinator and teacher of the Lakeside Alternative Program.  “There is a lot to be considered, but there are many positives to the move, one being that we are just too crowded at our present location and we do not have air conditioning.”

The Alternative Program, which is located in the Ventura/Garner-Hayfield Middle School, currently has 13 students enrolled.  Clear Lake and G-H/V high schools each have six seats available in the program.  According to Dykstra, each student needs to meet the requirements of their respective high schools to graduate from those schools.  Ventura holds the contract for the program and they are the ones that employ Dykstra.

Recently Kelly McLaughlin, Clear Lake’s buildings and grounds director, gave a tour of the facility to Dykstra and the principals and superintendents of both schools.

“I could tell Clear Lake takes great pride in the building and there are definitely spaces that would really meet our needs,” said Dykstra.

Another building tour is being planned for Friday, Nov. 16, to show the facility to the current students.  Dykstra said that she thinks it is important that the students see the school and give their thoughts on the move.

If the process moves forward, the school could be relocated as soon as January 2013.

Discussions were also held at the meeting regarding using Sunset School to house a New Tech Network Model regional academy.  Both Mason City and Clear Lake have shown an interest in establishing an academy, where students use technology to collaboratively solve problems, promoting critical thinking skills.

Clear Lake High School Principal Chris Murphy, along with six other interested people, will travel to Sioux Falls, S.D. this week to observe a New Tech Network Model school.

Both ideas are still open for discussion and will be revisited at the board’s meeting later this month.

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