The USD 329 Board of Education postponed voting for a proposed bond issue at Monday’s Board Meeting.
The BOE put together a Facilities Committee to choose a solution to the district’s current facility issues. This committee presented Option 11 from a list of proposed solutions.
“It’s very hard for our teachers in the district to be in separate spaces and to have a well-rounded education for all of our kids when they are spread apart.” — Jennifer Wenderott
Option 11 included many renovations and changes to the existing buildings in the district. The biggest changes among these include the closing of Maple Hill Elementary, Alma Elementary and Paxico Middle School. Maple Hill Elementary would be sold. Alma Elementary and Paxico Middle School would be removed. Grades Pre-K through 6 would be moved to the existing Junior High building which would be rebuilt to accommodate the increase in students. Grades 7 and 8 would be moved to the high school building.
Additional changes include the removal of all modular buildings district-wide, replacing the gym floors at the high school and current junior high site, remodeling the high school kitchen to a full cooking kitchen and putting in a new roof and HVAC system at the existing junior high building.
While this proposed idea was found to be the best option by the facilities committee, there was some concern from community members who attended the board meeting. Some concerns included putting younger children on buses with 6th graders and the loss of students to nearby districts.
Facility committee member Jennifer Wenderott addressed some of these concerns, including why it is beneficial to put elementary students into one building as opposed to making repairs to the schools we already have.
She said, “There was a lot of discussion about what it would do to communities, what has happened to other communities that have lost their schools and, as a committee, we were put together to figure out what would be the best way to lead the district financially. When you look at the number of square footage that our district has right now, and the way that we are spread out across the district, it only makes sense to combine our elementary schools, and it’s a fiscal reason, but it also comes down to the fact that we have to support our teachers, and that was one of the things that we looked at, and it’s very hard for our teachers in the district to be in separate spaces and to have a well-rounded education for all of our kids when they are spread apart.”
After much discussion, the BOE decided that it was not prepared to vote last night, and postponed further discussion to a special meeting December 2.
— Hannah Mumpower, @Hlmump01