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School board seeks architect
Plans for future projects to follow
new slt school schematic
A 2016 rendering by DMA Architects, Salina, shows how a new maintenance building and bus barn north of the Great Bend USD 428 District Education Center might look. The proposal was put on hold last December. Now the school board is preparing to choose an architect that will help develop a master plan for future construction projects. - photo by file image

The Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education is ready to create a master plan for future building projects and will hear presentations from architects later this month.
“We have three that look like they would meet the needs of our district,” Superintendent Khris Thexton said Monday.
Representatives from DLR, HTK and SJCF will come to the District Education Center for a meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 23. Each will have 15-20 minutes to make a presentation to the board, leaving time for questions. DLR group designed Garden City’s new high school, HTK designed Fort Hays State University’s Endowment & Alumni Center and SJCF is the architect for Maize USD 266’s latest projects.

A master plan
It’s been nearly a year since former Superintendent Brad Reed asked the board to consider building a new bus barn/maintenance building and renovating the District Education Center.
At the Nov. 14, 2016, board meeting, Don Marrs with DMA Architects showed the board preliminary drawings for that project, estimating it could be done for $2.1 million or less if completed by September 2017.
All of that was placed on hold last December when Board President Joyce Carter said, “We’re not sure the time is right to look at that. The board is going to be doing a strategic plan with long- and short-term goals.”
Since then Reed has retired and the board has received community input on possible capital outlay projects that would require an architect’s services. Those include adding storm-safe rooms at schools and adapting space for new instruction trends — such as moving sixth graders to Great Bend Middle School.

The first step
At Monday’s board meeting, Thexton said the first step in developing a master plan is choosing an architect. Board members Chris Umphres (the current president), Dr. Larry Kutina and Kevin Mauler have been working as a committee with Thexton and Assistant Superintendent John Popp as they considered possible architects. They started with six candidates and have narrowed the list to three.
The recommendation could have been left to the committee but on Monday it was decided this needs to come before the full board.
“Two of us three won’t be here later,” Kutina said. He and fellow committee member Mauler aren’t seeking re-election in November and their terms will be coming to an end. Carter’s term is also ending and she doesn’t plan to seek reelection, either.
Thexton said the master plan can include long- and short-term projects as the board consider “what areas our district needs to go to.”
All of the three candidates are suitable architects, Thexton said. At their presentations, “they can talk about what they’ve done for other district and what they could do for us. Is one group better working with rural communities or bigger communities, or does one have a better feel for western Kansas than others? You kind of get that feel when you start talking with everybody.”
Mauler agreed that the decision will come down to the firm that’s the best fit for this school district.
“Let’s see how they interact with the board,” he said.
As for DMA’s 2016 proposals, Thexton said the district still has them and has done nothing with them. Ask how much was spent on those proposals last year, Thexton told the Tribune “there were no costs associated with the proposal from DMA.”

This article was updated on Oct. 12. 

In the earlier version, DMA was described as a Salina firm. Architect Don Marrs responds, “We also have a Great Bend Office in the home we own at 1420 Roosevelt. My wife is from Great Bend and I met her when I attend Barton Community College in 1970. ... Great Bend is a major part of our market area and we do considerable amounts of work in western Kansas.” Marrs notes that DMA has done a number of projects for USD 428 since 2015. He was featured in the May 2106 issue of “Outlook,” a publication of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce.

Originally posted in October 2017