SJCF Architect Terry Wiggers from Wichita joined the Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting Monday to report on building needs being discussed by a community steering committee. Options suggested include new additions for district schools, including a suggestion to move Memorial Stadium at Great Bend High School.
The next steering committee meeting is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at the District Education Center. Future steps in the process include looking at the cost for the best options; community meetings and surveys starting at the end of October and into November; and a presentation to the school board with recommendations in January.
Some of the ideas under consideration include:
• New additions at elementary schools that include storm shelters and more.
• Closing the street between Eisenhower Elementary School and its playground for more building space and safer access.
• A new Early Childhood Center at a new site, or preschools at all elementary schools, with sixth graders moving to Great Bend Middle School. Washington Early Ed Center could also be upgraded. That option includes a new addition, with demolition of the oldest part of the existing building, replacing that with playground space and landscaping. There would be room for future parking spaces and/or additions.
• A new addition to GBMS that includes a competition gym. This is most acutely needed if sixth graders move to the middle school. One option includes a new two-story addition to the building.
• GBHS suggestions include a new auditorium, new Career & Technical Education (CTE) building, new football field and an addition that would allow students in the main building to walk to the Panther Activity Center without going outdoors. There is also an option for a new high school at a new site; in this scenario, the middle school could possibly move to the current GBHS site.
• New additions or buildings for transportation and maintenance, and for the central kitchen.
• Infrastructure upgrades district-wide.
Every group surveyed to date has preferred keeping preschool children at their neighborhood schools and moving sixth graders into the middle school, Wiggers said. Superintendent Khris Thexton said the Superintendent-Student Advisory Council also likes this plan. The council includes two high school students from each grade, 9-12, who meet regularly with Thexton.
Wiggers said opinions are most divided on plans for GBHS. Some of the proposals would require rotating the stadium or relocating it, possibly to the Great Bend Sports Complex. An off-site CTE Building was liked by some but received several negative responses initially.
Board members Cheryl Rugan and Jacquie Disque commented that they heard a lot of consensus on suggestions at the last steering committee meeting. Wiggers agreed, adding a proposal for Great Bend High School will be one of the hardest issues to resolve.
Tennis courts, GBRC
Superintendent Thexton also discussed plans to repair the city’s tennis courts and to advertise for an open position on the Great Bend Recreation Commission’s Board of Directors.
Eight tennis courts located at Veterans Memorial Park are owned by the City of Great Bend and maintained by the GBRC. They are used by city residents, the Rec Commission, USD 428 and Barton Community College.
“The tennis courts are in pretty rough shape right now,” Thexton said, noting they were last redone in 2012.
A proposal to properly clean the courts and apply an acrylic resurface coating and paint new lines on the courts was approved Monday by the GBRC Board of Directors for $48,668. USD 428 and the City will each pay pay one-third of the cost, $16,223. BCC will also contribute a smaller amount, Thexton said.
Weather permitting, the work could start as early as next week.
The GBRC will also have an opening for a board member who will serve as the school board’s representative. Sandy Smith’s board membership expires Dec. 31 and someone will be appointed to a four-year term starting Jan. 1, 2019. The school district will advertise the position in the Great Bend Tribune and make its recommendation to the GBRC at the Nov. 12 meeting.
USD 428 meeting at a glance
Here’s a brief look at Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting:
• Heard from SJCF Architect Terry Wiggers regarding the process of the USD 428 Steering Committee’s evaluation and prioritization of options for possible school improvement plans.
• Discussed the KASB annual conference set for Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 in Overland Park. Board President Chris Umphres will be the official delegate and board member Susan Young will be the alternate who will vote on behalf of the board regarding pertinent issues.
• Presented notification of Title VI B and Early Childhood Flow-Through Budget Application. The budget covers salaries for licensed special education staff salaries. The budget application will be available for public review at the Barton County Cooperative of Special Education for the next 30 days; approval is expected at the November board meeting.
• Accepted a free membership to the Central Kansas Library System.
• Announced an opening on the Great Bend Recreation Commission Board of Directors.
• Approved tennis court repairs.
• Heard reports from Assistant Superintendent John Popp on topics such as accreditation and recruiting teachers.
• Heard reports from Superintendent Khris Thexton, including a presentation on the bills and financial reports; donations to the district; facility projects, including plans for high school students to build a shed and start a garden at the property at 1812 Morphy St.; and the need to replace the Panther activity buses in the future.