Visitors to what used to be the Davenport Osteopathic Hospital would not recognize the place these days. It's the new Mid City High School, and its principal, Jake Klipsch, talked about the school and led a tour of the building at Saturday's ward meeting hosted by Davenport Seventh Ward Alderman Mike Matson.
The school opened in August, "without all the floors completed," Klipsch said. It is considered the fourth high school in the Davenport district, and includes many students who previously were educated at the Kimberly Center, 1002 W. Kimberly Road.
Students from other Davenport high schools may transfer into Mid City High School, and Klipsch said about 30 new students arrive each semester.
All students, however, first complete an interview process. "No student is forced to come here. They choose to come here," he added.
The purpose of Mid City is to decrease the district's dropout rate. To that end, it has about 240 students, 22 faculty members and others including case workers. Some 20 of the students have children, and there is Head Start programming on site.
Students may have had anxiety issues in the larger high schools, they may have been bullied in a former school setting, or could have been marginalized because of their sexual orientation, Klipsch said. "There is not just one kind of kid here," he added.
The principal is able to greet each student by name, which he enjoys doing, and notes that the adults work on making relationships with the students. "We don't want the rest of their lives ruined because they dropped out of school," he said.
The Mid City High School student body was described by its principal as "out-of-the-box thinkers, and trend-setters. We do things differently (here) and that's not something to be ashamed of," he said.
Mid City High School was purchased for $2.5 million and renovated for $8.5 million. The entire project has been paid for by using statewide penny sales tax money.
That money can only be used for construction and building purposes, so "it was not a choice between building a school or hiring teachers," Klipsch said.
There is more construction work going on at the south side of Mid City, including a recreational gym, an area for music and shop activities.