School board discusses facilities, priorities
Action was taken on three items, but the bulk of the Unified School District 333 board of education October meeting Monday night centered on discussions on facilities and priority projects for the community.
The board, during the meeting, approved a resolution for participation in he Central Kansas Library System, an interlocal agreement with Smoky Hill/Central Kansas Education Service Center and a consultant service contract wit the Kansas Association of School Boards Legal Assistance fund for the period of July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019 at a cost of $2,100.
During the meeting, the board revisited a discussion on district facilities.
A PowerPoint presentation by Superintendent of schools Quentin Breese highlighted some of the concerns about the aging facilities.
Those concerns, along with enrollment growth in the district, include safety and security of the students, aging and deteriorating facilities — ADA accessibility, adapting to changing educational expectations, enhancing the learning environment they currently offer and the desire to create an innovative and progressive school district.
During a study session in September, the board met with Mike Mayo, principal architect with Ebert, Mayo Design Group & Planning Consultants, Manhattan, who had been contracted to provide consulting services for the district.
Mayo presented the board with possible renovations to the Concordia Junior-Senior High School building with an estimated cost of $32 million.
“I know Mike Mayo presented a $30 million whatever, that was from him talking to several entities, a group of administrators, board members, students, people in the community. Everybody's own opinion he incorporated into his presentation. That's not going to be what's going to be done. I don't think we're even remotely close to thinking about a priority to present to the public. But I know it's going to be from the classroom out though. It's go to be. That's it. The other stuff is window dressing” board president Mark Nordell said.
Included in a list of facilities needs presented by Breese were ADA accessibility/flow renovations, electrical compliance, fire safety compliance, student safety, special education mobility support spaces, science classroom lab updates, updated collaborative classroom learning environments, updated safety entrances and exits, locker room/restroom updates.
“The other piece is I think a pride factor, enhancing the learning environment we currently offer,” Breese said, “I am proud of what we do here in Concordia, and I think all of our administrative team is, and I think you should be as a board. We are accomplishing great things with the staff that we have, and I think we are using our resources to the best of our ability, but we are also cognizant of the fact that the world is ever changing and we want to make sure we are preparing our students for the future. And that does take some updating and we want to change our learning environment a little bit,” Breese said.
Previously, the board had discussed, because of increased enrollment in elementary school in grades preschool-4, the possibility of reopening the former Concordia Middle School.
The Middle School, 1001 East Seventh St., was closed following the 2012-13 school year and the fifth and sixth grade students were relocated to the junior-senior high school building.
Breese informed the board Monday night that the administrative team would like to take another year to 18 months to make a decision on whether or not to reopen the Middle School building.
“We're going to kind of watch the situation. Do some diligent study on what we want our district to look like as a whole to get us through the next 25 to 30 years before we make that call,” Breese said, “We really want to take a good solid look at that before we uproot a bunch of buildings and invest a ton of money into that Middle School building.”
Leading into the discussion on facilities, Breese addressed some concerns which have been raised about the renovations done by the district at Harold M. Clark Stadium including the installation of a new track and of an artificial turf football field.
“I think there is some drastic confusion over the track,” Breese said.
Breese said the track was completed out of the capital outlay budget.
“That is our budget that we operate with daily. We buy school buses out of that budget. We don't go to the voters and ask whether we are going to buy a school bus. You guys make those decisions in this room. We don't go to the voters and ask whether we can put on a $300,000-400,000 roof. Those are made for operations type of things. That is the decision you guys made with the track project,” Breese said.
Breese said that the track had to be replaced or the district needed to discontinue the track and field program.
Addressing the installation of the artificial turf field, Breese said that field usability in wet weather was one factor along with more efficient use of the district's resources.
Breese said annual maintenance costs were about $35,000.
By installing the turf, Breese said that the district offset the potential cost of about $150,000 for installing slot drainage all the way around the football field if it would have been left as grass.
Breese said that the district is looking at four to five years to see the return on the investment in the track and turf project.
“So I think it is important that that is reminded to the companies and the folks that are questioning us on our conversations,” Breese said.
The board of education, during the meeting addressed a request by the CloudCorp board of directors to determine their top three priorities in the community for the coming years.
The CloudCorp board sent out a letter to all of the governmental entities in the county to offer input on priority projects for the entire community.
The Concordia city commission, during its meeting last week, listed modern medical facility, jobs with good wages/skilled workforce to fill those jobs, attention to educational facilities where needed and desirable housing as its top priorities.
School board member Tim Beims said that he applauds CloudCorp for taking an initiative on the issue.
“This is a great idea. At the end of the day, we all have to share the same objectives for this community,” Beims said, “To me, a priority along with the hospital is economic development and education. Those are kind of the three legs of the stool in my mind, and economic development is key to the other two.”
During the discussion, the board identified schools/education and hospital/health care as the top priorities, and then economic growth.
“It's all the same needs. They are all important at some point. Maybe to some people at a different level It's kind of hard for us to make a decision which one we want to point is number one, number two and number three. How would you do that when they all tie together,” board member Tony Miller said.
“I think all of us sitting here value a hospital. I can't wait 10-15 years for that to come off the tax rolls to do something with the high school. The hospital can't wait 10-15 years either,” Breese said.
Also listed as a priority by the board was common use shared community areas.
Health Care Insurance
Breese informed the board that the district, as of now, is looking at about a 5.8 percent increase in health insurance costs. That would amount to about $162,000.
“I am still working on that a little bit,” Breese said.
Breese said that district is looking at some other options.