Old department store to house Clarksville school with innovative - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Old department store to house Clarksville school with innovative curriculum

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CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Clarksville school leaders say they will turn an old department store into the site for the most innovative curriculum they've ever been able to offer students.

Only WDRB cameras went inside the Value City property Friday to reveal what they're up against. 

From cash registers to caution tape -- when the Value City department store left Clarksville, it left a lot behind.  Paint peels from the walls and spots from a leaky roof look down on a crumbling floor.

"I see huge potential, huge potential," says School Board President Bill Wilson.  It's the new site for Clarksville Community School District's new high school called New Tech.

He explains, "The teaching environment is totally different.  They have to take on the role of solving problems and coming up with solutions and it's integrated with all their courses.

Wilson says the large open environment lends to the project-based learning model.  It's said to better engage students, raise test scores, and get more students into college and good jobs right out of high school.

The three-year vision was in jeopardy in January.  Members of the city's Redevelopment Commission which owns the building balked at the idea.  But on Thursday, they agreed to deed the property to the school district for one dollar.

Nick Lawrence with the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission said, "Right now we're just looking at filling it, maybe as a grass area, to supplement the Little League ballpark that we have."

Value City Furniture next door is moving in November.  It will come down too.  It's part of a bigger effort to revitalize Eastern Boulevard.

There's already construction in the complex with new businesses on the way.  Lawrence says, "We feel like we can generate a lot of energy in the center of the corridor and hopefully that emanates out."

That energy is already reaching the high school where teachers such as Pam Cooper hope to be some of the first faculty members at New Tech.  "Technology is a big part of it," she says, "but it's really not the key. The key is teaching the children to take a real-life problem and develop a solution to that problem.  You'll use the same state standards."

Plans are to open with a freshman class in August 2014.  The district spent a half-million dollars to purchase the New Tech curriculum.  It's yet to hire a builder, but renovation and repairs at Value City are expected to cost $6 million.

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