Some heated discussion took place at Monday night’s meeting of the Central Plains USD 112 board of education regarding the replacement of bleachers at the Claflin Junior-Senior High School football field.
Before the meeting, board members toured the facilities at both Claflin and Quivira Heights High Schools.
“We need to do something,” said Superintendent Steve Woolf.
Board member Malcolm Shaw said the district needs to be thrifty with its funds and that having money doesn’t mean it has to be spent.
Because of the good shape of the QHHS football field and bleachers, Shaw favored the Central Plains High School Oilers playing football at Bushton, which is a short distance down the road, rather than at Claflin.
“Building new bleachers in Claflin would not be a wise way to use money,” he said. “Kids are our business. The kids come first.”
Board member Jim Vance argued for replacing the bleachers at Claflin.
“Those bleachers are dangerous,” he said. “I think it’s a safety hazard regardless of the sport being played. It’s the right thing to do.”
“We’ve already brought this up and shot it down,” added board member Cherlyn Maier. “You have to look past today and tomorrow and into the future.”
“The field at Bushton is a beautiful field,” board member Dawn Dolezal said. “It doesn’t seem like a wise use of money when a facility is already in existence at a different location.”
“I’m not sure we have enough information to make the decision Malcolm is asking for,” board vice president Bert Besthorn said. “And we won’t until we have hard, fast dollars.”
Besthorn said the Claflin football field is in better shape than what it looks.
“And I don’t think you can condemn the lighting until you have been there at night,” he added.
Besthorn said the funds for the new bleachers would come from capital outlay, not general funds which are used to educate students.
“If you pursue moving this to Quivira Heights High School, you’re going to rip this district apart,” Besthorn said.
“As a board, we’ve worked really hard to do what is best for the kids,” board president Alan Siemer said. “I struggle with spending that kind of money in a district where we have that facility in use today. There are a lot of things we can spend our money on rather than a football field.”
Siemer hoped patrons of the district would weigh in with their comments on the issue before a final decision is made.
Woolf will continue to finalize the bids for the new Claflin bleachers and include some options for the board to consider as well.
In other business:
• Vern Schepmann, on behalf of the Smoky Hills Community Foundation, presented Brian Smith, principal of Wilson Schools, with an $800 check for the purchase of a “Gunshoot Away” basketball apparatus. The device will be used during basketball practice.
• The board approved the fees the district will charge during the 2011-12 school year. These range from $35 for textbooks and pre-school, to $40 for a laptop computer. Driver’s education will be $110.
•Approval was given to purchase 200 Apple Macintosh student laptop computers from Apple for $197,532 and 25 Apple Macintosh laptop computers and two file servers for the teachers at Claflin for $30,217.56.
The expenditure will be paid using 2010-11 fiscal year funds.
• Approval was given to sell the district office in Lorraine to the City of Lorraine for $1, with a closing date of Aug. 1.
“There is a need in Lorraine for this building as a city building,” Woolf said.
As part of the agreement, the building cannot be sold by the City of Lorraine for 25 years. It also must be left open as a drop-off and pick-up point for students. If it is not being used as a city building, USD 112 will be allowed to buy the building back for $1.
• The 2011-12 district handbook was approved on first reading.
• During a discussion of possibly moving the vehicle storage barn at Claflin Elementary School to CJSHS, the board decided not to proceed with the move. Rather, Woolf will research what it would take to build a new barn at CJSHS as a learning project for industrial arts students.
• The purchase of an Americans With Disabilities Act compliant 2006 Ford 12 passenger bus from Masters Transportation in Wichita was approved. The bus will cost $29,500 with trade-in.
• Woolf briefly discussed the energy audit which took place at all the schools in the district.
“Overall, our facilities are doing a super job, but we still have some things we can work on,” he said.
Woolf will talk further with education facilities consultant Keven Ward and certified energy manager Randy Jameson about the audit and report back to the board.
The meeting was recessed until 6 p.m. Monday, May 23, at Quivira Heights Elementary-Junior High School in Holyrood.