HOISINGTON — Lincoln School in Hoisington was built in the 1920s and needs to be updated for changing technology and standards. With this in mind, consultant Kent Stewart was contracted by the USD 431 school district to study the facilities in Hoisington.
At the school board’s regular meeting earlier this month, he presented his findings.
He told the board that Hoisington’s enrollment has been up every year for the last five years. In 2009, enrollment was 474 and in 2013, was 590.
Although all of the schools in the district were included in the report, his findings related primarily to the age of Lincoln School. “The old school is quite typical of schools built in the 1920s,” said Stewart. “They were very substantial well-constructed buildings, featuring very good construction materials.
“The terrazzo corridor floors are a good example of a virtually indestructible construction material. This is one reason why community and school leaders have difficulty deciding when to close a 1920s school building,” he said. “They were built to seemingly last forever.”
One disadvantage he cited to the grade and middle schools in Hoisington are the small sites the schools are situated, leaving little room for expansion. Stewart said neither site had ideal space for additional classrooms.
To close Lincoln School and move the kids to Roosevelt would require six additional classrooms. To move the third graders only to Roosevelt would require three additional classrooms. Moving those grades to the middle school would also require six additional classrooms.
Stewart did not recommend changing grade organization because moving any of the grades to a different location, would also require expansion of classrooms at the middle school and Roosevelt.
With expansion of the existing schools not an option, Stewart discussed maintaining or replacing Lincoln School.
Strengths of Lincoln School are:
•It is an important part of the east side of town. The grounds, mature trees and front of the building are attractive.
•The gymnasium was built in the 1950s and is much newer than the main building.
•The building was outfitted with up-to-date doors and windows. The classrooms have received new ceilings, lighting, carpet and technology equipment. “A visitor has to be reminded of the age of the building,” Stewart said.
•It is adequately sized for grades 3 and 4.
The consultant recommended an engineer or architectural specialist study the foundation and footings. He said there is some evidence of structure settlement, though it appears to have been fairly mild.
The heating, air conditioning, ventilation and plumbing needs inspection and evaluation. “It will probably need to be upgraded,” said Stewart. Also in need of inspection are lighting and electrical systems.
“After engineering studies of the mechanical, electrical and structural systems are complete, all necessary data will be available for the community representatives, school personnel and the school board to decide together whether to modernize or close the building,” said Stewart.
So, his first recommendation was to have an engineering evaluation of Lincoln School.
“It is important to realize that if structural problems are discovered at Lincoln, the best alternative will no doubt be to replace the building,” Stewart said. “If engineers find that only the mechanical and/or electrical systems need updating, then the best choice may be to make those updates and to continue using the building.”
The consultant suggested a guideline-if the cost of modernization exceeds 50 percent of replacement value, then modernization is questionable. Additional considerations include the cost of education improvement, health and aesthetic improvements, and security.
A group of citizens met with the district last year to do school district strategic planning. At that time, some citizens asked about the feasibility of replacing the school, but retaining the gym.
In this scenario, Lincoln would need to be replaced at its present location, and the students housed in temporary facility for one school year.
The board took no action.