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School board reviews storm damage
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Last Thursday’s storm that damaged the roof on Lincoln Elementary School was discussed at Monday’s Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education meeting.
Superintendent Brad Reed said he and Assistant Superintendent Khris Thexton began inspecting buildings that night and they found “minimal damage” at other locations in the school district. At Lincoln, he said, “It did rip off different layers and different parts of the building.” There was half an inch of water on the gym floor, but the floor won’t have to be replaced.
“Luckily, the damage was confined to the gym area,” he said. One rooftop air conditioning unit was destroyed, and bricks were pulled loose as the roof was peeled down as far as it would go.
The roof was rated to withstand an updraft of 90 miles per hour, he said. The National Weather Service described the storm as straight-line winds “surpassing 70 mph.”
Thexton provided a list of about two dozen individuals, companies and agencies that arrived to help. “It’s amazing how fast people step up and help you out,” he said.
“Our staff did a really great job Thursday night,” Reed said.
Students at Lincoln missed one day of school, last Friday.
The storm hit around 8 p.m. Thursday.
“I’m very thankful that it didn’t happen about 5 1/2 hours earlier (when kids were in school),” Reed said.
The gym is now sealed and protected from the elements, but it may take some time to repair it, he said.

Property purchased
In action items, the board spent 20 minutes behind closed doors to discuss the acquisition of property. Following that executive session, the board voted 4-1 to purchase the property at 1812 Morton St.
Board member Larry Kutina voted no; those voting in favor were Susan Young, Joyce Carter, Kevin Mauler and Lori Reneau. Board members Chris Umphres and Cheryl Rugan were absent.
The board did not disclose what the district will pay for the property. When asked by the Great Bend Tribune, Superintendent Reed said he would not disclose that information at this time. Nor would he elaborate on the reason of the purchase, except to say, “for district acquisition.”
The property is south of Great Bend High School and across the street from land purchased by the district and converted into parking spaces in 2013.
According to ORKA (Open Records for Kansas Appraisers), the property is a 50 by 140 foot lot with a building. The total value is estimated at $22,800, or $6,300 for the land and $16,500 for the building.

Phone system
The board also approved the administration’s request to accept bids for a new district-wide telephone system. According to the agenda, the bid documents have been developed for release to three vendors. Reed said the district is required to seek bids on any purchase over $20,000. While this could have been done in pieces, with each piece costing less than that amount, he said, “I want to do it all in one package.”
The actual work can be done one building at a time and be completed by March 2016.
“We were hopeful that we could get it done for around $40,000,” Reed said, but early estimates have been around $48,000.
The information provided to the board described the present phone system as “obsolete,” and board member Susan Young, a former teacher, agreed with that description.
Reed said problems include static on the lines and dropped calls, as well as not utilizing current technology features.
Thexton said a new digital system would replace the traditional analog system, often referred to as “Plain Old Telephone Service,” or POTS. Digital would be more reliable than a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system because, he said, “if your Internet goes down (with digital), you still have phone service.”
A new system could cut monthly phone bills in half, from $3,000 to $1,500, he said. If the bids come in around $45,000, the system will pay for itself in two and a half years.
Board President Joyce Carter recalled that a phone system upgrade was proposed as part of the 1998-99 the bond issue, but the proposal was later dropped in order to reduce the cost. The system is described as being about 30 years old.
The bids will go out today and will be opened on Sept. 23. The board will be asked to approve a bid at its next meeting, at noon on Sept. 24.