Considering the future

109 board sees first draft of updates proposed for district buildings

By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor

The full USD 109 school board got a peek Thursday night at what building updates could make Republic County High School and East Elementary ready for students in future decades.

Architect Kelly McMurphy of Landmark Architects, Hutchinson, walked the board through drawings that show a classroom addition and main entrance on the south end of East to house grades K-5, and new construction and remodeling at RCHS to add science and FACs labs, an auditorium, multi-purpose practice gyms for wrestling and junior varsity.

“This is a really effi cient design for what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Tucker Peddicord, senior estimator for McCownGordan Construction of Manhattan.

The plans unveiled to the board are the result of several months of meetings “and at least 25 revisions” between the architect, construction manager, administrators and a board facilities committee made up of Clay Siemsen, Brian McCartney and Loisann Brown.

Superintendent Michael Couch said the board won’t decide whether to take a bond issue to a vote until plans and costs have been vetted by district patrons at community meetings.

If they decide to move forward with a ballot, that would likely be a mail-in vote in January, he said.

‘Catch up projects’

McMurphy said the design includes two classrooms each for pre-school and Kindergarten at East, and three classrooms for all other grades. Some space would not have to be finished immediately, but would be available as enrollment grows, he said.

Todd Knight, McCown Gordan regional manager, said the vision of the committee working on the plans so far is to enhance the learning experience, provide safety and security, and create flexible spaces for the district’s future needs

Couch said that some of the schools’ needs, like a roof at RCHS and a new press box/concession stand might be funded through the district’s capital outlay fund at the same time as the renovations if voters approve bonds. He said he also hopes to create a plan for continued maintenance for the facilities.

“But we’ve got to get the buildings’ caught up before we can address continued maintenance,” he said.

Projects approved

Several projects will be accomplished this summer, although the cost of a new roof on the Vocational Agriculture building means other projects will be delayed a year.

The board accepted the bid of Geisler Roofi ng, Concordia, for a screwdown roof with insulation at a cost of $125,888. Geisler owner Dallas Hasenbank told the board he believes that a standing seam metal roof would last longer, but that option came at a price tag of over $200,000.

“I know a screw down roof can leak,” said board member Chris Pachta, “but I have (a screw down roof) on a building that has never leaked, and has never had the screws or washers replaced.”

Board president Siemsen agreed that a standing seam roof might have better longevity overall, “but we have other projects we need to do besides this roof.”

Groundwork has started for a greenhouse outside the ag shop.

East improvements

Couch said that improvements to the restrooms at East Elementary will likely be delayed a year because of the cost of the ag shop roof.

East will see classroom updates this summer, including new carpet in the library and classrooms on the west side of the main hall. The board accepted bids submitted by Boman Floor Coverings in the amount of $16,329 for the classrooms, and $7,262 for the library.

In addition, maintenance supervisor Craig Allen said the 1952 chalk board frames will be removed from the walls in classrooms, but because they were glued to the walls, false walls will be built over the top. In addition, the partial partition walls in classrooms will be removed. Roger Fuller Construction submitted a bid of $9,500 for that work.

3 Kindergarten Classes

While removing partitions in classrooms will gain space, the board decided that the estimated 42 Kindergarteners enrolled for the 2017-18 school year will be divided into three sections.

“I have a hard time putting 21 kids in the room Sharon (Strnad) is in now,” said East principal Katie Struebing.

“I have a hard time putting 21 kids in a Kindergarten class, period,” said Loisann Brown. “Twenty-one kids versus 14 kids in a classroom means every kid has 30 percent less time with the teacher.”

Couch said he is “dissatisfi ed” that the best alternative for Spanish I and II classes for high school students next year will be online classes through the Smoky Hill Educational Service Center. The district continues to search for a way to offer Spanish 3 and 4 for about eight interested students, said high school principal Alan Sheets.

RCHS and Pike Valley shared the services of Spanish instructor Conan Shinn for several years, but he has resigned effective the end of this school year. Sheets said Spanish 3 is a college-level class, and it is rare that it is offered in person by an instructor at the high school level.

The board approved the purchase of $47,000 worth of textbooks for Social Studies, and Couch said he plans to purchase 25 Google Expedition kits for $7,500. The virtual reality headsets allow students to “see what they are studying”, he said.

In other business:

  • Couch said an art fee of $5 per elementary student will be added in 2017-18 which will enable the district to provide art classes at East Elementary.
  • Activities director Brad Couture suggested a revision to the policy regarding how long trophies are displayed at Republic County High School. While any post-season trophies and plaques will remain in the display case permanently, he recommended plaques for other events be donated to the Alumni Association or Republic County Historical Museum once the fi nal team member has graduated.
  • The board approved the purchase of a 2016 Dodge Caravan with 25,000 miles from Melton Motor Company for $17,745 with trade of a 2007 Chevy.