The USD 421 Board of Education made some important decisions Monday evening that will ensure the district’s school buildings provide more safety and allow for innovative teaching techniques in the years to come. They also helped set the course for the district’s band program into the future.
A.J. Mosier, a Hoisington High School marching band drummer, recently applied for and won a grant for his school from the Golden Belt Community Foundation for $3,500 to go towards repair and replacement of band instruments, particularly drums and drum carriers. A December, 2014 story in the Tribune told of the ultimate goal of the band members to renovate the program, with a special eye towards the middle school program which they see as a key part of improving the high school band overall.
At Monday’s meeting, Mosier approached the board and asked for the district to also provide funding to help cover the costs associated with purchasing several new instruments. He said the band has a few other fundraisers planned, and they are working on other grant proposals at this time. While Mosier did not have an itemized budget available for the project, he and another band student were able to provide pricing of various instruments the band would need.
After some discussion, board member Dean Stoskopf proposed the district could provide $3,500 from the contingency fund.
“This amount would send a good message to the Golden Belt Community Foundation that we support the project that they supported,” he said.
Board member Deb Stephens said first and foremost she appreciates the involvement of the students in the project, and the board unanimously approved allocating the money to the project.
A new school
Superintendent Bill Lowry then shifted gears back to the facilities discussion and turned the floor over to architect Stewart Nelson with Gibson, Mancini, Carmichael and Nelson P.A. Inc.
Nelson presented an overview of the proposed new Lincoln Elementary School, one of four options the board has been considering to help solve some issues the district faces due to that age and condition, as well as securability of its buildings.
The option to build a new Lincoln Elementary School adjacent to the existing one and then demolishing the old building to make way for a new playground met with favorable comments from the board. Nelson’s in-depth presentation spoke to zoning changes from R-1 to R-2 which he said would be agreeable to the city manager, the need for angled parking on North Oak Street and East 6th Streets, alleviating issues with pick up and drop off at Roosevelt Elementary School and the middle school, and plans to improve the security at each building by remodeling entries to require visitors must pass through reception areas before entering the main hallways.
The proposed building will include both a cafeteria and a gymnasium. The gymnasium will include a basketball court shorter than regulation size, but with the same width, providing in essence a full half-court. There are also options for bleachers to improve accommodations for students and family members at assemblies and programs.
If zoning is changed, the allowable lot space that can be built on will allow for the architects to include a second story of classrooms for higher grades, which will free up space at Roosevelt, allowing the district to dispose of a modular preschool classroom.
After Nelson concluded his presentation, Lowry spoke to the board.
“At some point, we have to decide which option we’re really going to go towards, define it and present it to the patrons,” he said. “This plan, at $11.5 million, essentially allows for a no-mill levy increase bond. We get three security upgrades, cafeteria and storm shelter, sidewalks and parking, asbestos abatement and demolition of the existing Lincoln school, sewer line, etc. are all included.”
Stephens said the Lincoln option as presented that evening was the best option, and board member Sara Tarlton and Alderdice agreed. After Nelson outlined the next steps, Stoskopf moved to proceed with the proposal, and with no further discussion, it passed unanimously. He then called for a vote to proceed with a bond proposal not to exceed $11,5 million, which also passed unanimously.
Nelson said he would start advertising for a CMRL at-risk for the project, and the board could narrow the number of interviewees down to three to five at the February meeting.
Other items of discussion and actions taken included:
Appointed Gary Boxberger to continue his appointment to the recreation commission for another four years.
Agreed to continue having the annual joint meeting with the recreation commission board in February.
Board members reviewed current district language about student fees and charges, and will consider changes to be discussed at the next meeting.
Agreed to accept sealed bids for the sale of the district’s 1994 white Chevy pickup truck. The deadline for bids will be noon on Jan. 30th.
Heard the first reading of proposed KASB policy recommendations.
Heard reports from principals.
The USD 431 B.O.E. will meet again on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at the district office.