Archive for Thursday, January 25, 2001

Board hears final report of schools

January 25, 2001

A final report on Eudora's schools has left the local school board three options on how to cope with overcrowding at its high and middle schools.

The board heard a presentation last Thursday from the Overland Park architectural firm, DLR Group. DLR presented options on how the district could better provide for its students.

DLR offered seven options, which the board narrowed down to three. The options provided for 3-percent growth over the next 20 years. Each proposal included a first phase from 2001-2003 and a second phase from 2009-2010.

Option one proposed a new 600-student high school, with an estimated cost of $20.25 million. It also included additions to the current high school that would provide resource rooms, a teachers' planning center and a technology lab. The option also provided for an addition to the gymnasium and commons area at a cost of $2.9 million. The new school and additions would be built in the first phase.

The second phase would build a 300-student, $6 million elementary school and a four-classroom addition to the existing high school. The $1.08 million addition would increase the high school's capacity to 450 students.

Total cost for the 20-year plan would be $30.2 million.

A second option would build a $9.8 million 450-student middle school housing sixth through eighth grades. A seven-classroom addition to the high school with improvements to the commons area, special education room and the gymnasium would carry a pricetag of $3.6 million

The second phase included a $6 million, 300-student elementary school, housing kindergarten through fifth grade.

The 20-year cost for option two would be $19.38 million.

A final $9.79 million option included a 450-student middle school for sixth through eighth grades. A seven-classroom high school addition and improvements to the commons area, special education and the gymnasium was included for $3.59 million.

The third option's second phase would build a $6 million, kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school. The school would not be built until 2020.

DLR concluded that Eudora Middle School (EMS) needs major upgrades to bring the school up to standard. The report also stated a need for both schools to increase space to provide for an increasing number of students.

Land acquisition was not figured into the proposed options' estimated costs, but they did include a 3-percent inflation cost. All options included models, such as moving the middle school to the existing high school, relocating district offices and using EMS for elementary and grade schools.

DLR representative Jim French said the firm's conclusions were based on its experience with other school districts.

"What we tried to do, at least in our projections, we tried to base it on standards in the industry," French said.

EHS principal Marty Kobza said he hoped the board would not be afraid of the cost of a new high school.

"I'd hate to see us get scared away from a new high school at that cost," Kobza said. "I would hate to see us put additions on an existing structure and not feel like it could maintain the growth."

Board member Greg Neis said after hearing the estimate, he had second thoughts about a new high school.

"We were talking about a new high school right along (from the start), Neis said. "Even though DLR figured the cost of the new high school high, there's no way we can afford a new high school."

Board president Marion Johnson agreed. He said the board will continue taking up the issue with community and civil groups in Eudora, getting input and answering questions. He said he board hopes to decide on an option by April. The earliest a bond issue could go to the polls would be in the fall with a special election.

"It's probably not going to be feasible enough to have a bond to have a new high school," he said. "That's part of what we need to look at, that's why we are going around and talking to the people."

French said a possibility would be to add on to EHS and remodel EMS. Though the possibility of remodeling EMS was feasible, the decision would be in the public's hands.

"It just depends on whether the community thinks that building is worth remodeling," he said.

For board member Carlie Abel, remodeling EMS is a good idea. Abel said he supports adding on to EHS, because that was the selling point of for the bond issue five years ago.

"If it's not such a big bite and the public will support it, I'll go along with it," he said. "I think we've got to watch the debt we throw out to the people."

Although building a new high school may be too expense and adding on to EHS is possible, it wouldn't solve some problems, Neis said.

"We're still going to have problems," he said. "You can add onto it but you've still got narrow hallways, one gym and you'll need restrooms and to expand the commons area.

"You're going to have to get a balance; the best for your buck," Neis said.

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