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School district discusses transition into the future of education PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 October 2017 11:19

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ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



USD 480 has already undergone some dramatic changes in the past couple years thanks to work throughout the schools and the future will bring about even more changes in the coming years. 

Most prominent for the USD 480 school board during a special meeting Wednesday evening was discussion of a long-range facilities master plan, which will include several factors. 

“We can all agree a facilities master plan is way more than a list,” Superintendent Renae Hickert began. 

“There’s items that go back to 2010 where I’ve got these lists,” Auxiliary Services Director Mike Rogg added. “When I see these, I see a list of summer projects and when someone says to me something about a facilities development plan, I see the facilities plan as interactive. You need to know what you’re going to do in a strategic education plan and then the facilities plan supports the objectives of the strategic plan, program planning and I really see the state of Kansas moving this way.”

No official decisions were voted on by the board after this discussion (as it was only a discussion item) but there were several factors that were discussed among Rogg, Hickert and the USD 480 board members, with one of the parts of the discussion being about “beyond” performance factors including educational programming (including the Kansans CAN redesign, the LHS 2020 plan) and the question of what education in USD 480 

  will look like in the next few years. Along with that, Hickert and Rogg also talked about making some updates to help with energy conservation. 

“I’m thinking the biggest bang for our buck, especially now that we’re still using some of our older buildings like LHS, Cottonwood, Sunflower, Southlawn, I think it’s important for us to look at a performance contract for energy-saving upgrades,” Hickert said. “I went to the Kansas Corporation Commission web site to find more out about these. This is a way to maybe help fund some projects with the savings from these energy-efficiency upgrades and changes.”

“And a lot of the appeal about the performance contract, as you’re working to build up capital reserves to fund some other projects, this is a way to possibly fund some large projects that will in a sense pay itself back over the years,” Rogg added. “So it gives you enough cash on hand at one time to address things as a system versus going in, addressing them as a task list and sometimes getting things out of order.”

Hickert then showed the board some examples of similar plans done by other area school districts before the some concerns were raised regarding the sequence of the items in the master plan. 

“Would this maybe be putting the cart before the horse?” board member Travis Combs asked. “To me, this is just identifying utilities and decreasing costs, but I was thinking with the facilities master plan, we’d be coming up with the master plan and what all needs to be done across the district building-wise.” 

Discussion continued in this vein for several minutes, with Rogg saying the energy conservation work could knock out a big chunk of work in a short time and take care of some of the maintenance that has been deferred for a long time and other board members saying the energy conservation efforts have been a long time coming and are needed in helping put the plan together. Discussion then turned to remaining facility needs including those for athletics, additional programs and enrollment numbers. 

“If you look at Texas, Austin in particular, they just finished their planning process revision,” Rogg said. “They’re really deep in their program planning and have a really good process with that with the school district. When you start looking at these initiatives, it would appear Kansas is moving in the direction of program planning. That’s really what the LHS 2020 plan is there at the high school.”

“There are definitely other areas we’ll be assessing, like our athletic and activities facilities, our auditorium, that type of thing,” Hickert said. “Renovations based on educational programming decisions like what the science would want – they are planning for the future of science there. We need to look at all of that because we want our facilities to support our educational programming.”

Other future updates discussed included those for technology and other facilities management topics. Discussion continued in this vein for several minutes and Hickert said these topics will continue to be discussed in future meetings. 

Also on the agenda Wednesday evening was discussion of the future of the former Garfield Elementary School building, with Rogg giving the board some updated information. 

“We plan to have a pre-bid meeting and once we start the asbestos abatement, no one will be able to get in the building,” Rogg said. “We want to have that pre-bid meeting, get the contractors in on the 30th, which will still give them another few days if there’s anything we need to look at again. Once we start the asbestos abatement, they’re going to update it to a demolition standard and no one will be able to get in the building without personal protection.”

Some other issues brought up during this discussion included a handful of break-ins to the building as well as what to do with the playground equipment still in the area (which Combs said was a main source of entertainment in that neighborhood) and what to do with the parking lot area, with one of the ideas brought up being the City of Liberal taking it over and turning it into a city park. As this was an information only item, no official decision was made on any of the parts discussed regarding the Garfield building. The asbestos abatement will begin by Nov. 1 and should be concluded by Jan. 1, 2018, before the building is demolished.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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