Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2001

All over but the voting

Future of high school, district to be decided Tuesday at polls

November 1, 2001

The circular schematic and futuristic design don't make the proposed Eudora High School an easy sell.

With the bond election less than a week away, the It's A K-12 Solution committee presented its spiel, previously taken to area organizations, at a community-wide presentation Oct. 29.

About 45 people listened to committee member and former Eudora Board of Education president Marion Johnson as he delved into the nitty gritty of building and paying for a new school. Yet finances represented a small portion of questions and comments. Instead, Johnson, Superintendent Marty Kobza and architect Jim French spent most of the hour explaining the reasons for the school's

design and listened to suggestions about possible changes.

Committee leader Kim Schulz told the attendees this was the committee's chance to answer questions and squelch misinformation.

"All the professionals are here," she said. "They have their lines; they know what to say."

Johnson ran through a presentation, complete with graphics and illustrations. He began the pitch by telling school patrons why Nov. 6 is the ideal time to vote "yes."

Although the district has figured interest rates at 5.25 percent, Johnson said the De Soto school district recently passed a bond at 4.7 percent interest. Moreover, with state school financing running a tight ship, the 35 percent of the school's cost the state can kick in now may not always be available, he said.

In conjunction with the committee's name, Johnson told the audience building a high school would solve problems in all of the buildings.

Johnson also showed a graph of projected school enrollment and a map highlighting Eudora's residential areas that have sprung up since the current high school's completion in 1994.

One woman told Johnson that in her neighborhood 19 school-age children lived in only six houses.

"That gives you a full grasp," Johnson said. "We have to deal with it."

When Johnson pulled out a schematic of the school's layout, the questions and comments began flying, but that's what Johnson was after all along.

"One of the things I try to do is to get an impression," he said. "What do you think about the design? What have you heard people say?"

Johnson addressed frequently asked questions about the building, such as the lack of an auditorium, the purpose of the auxiliary gym and why this school would be more expandable than the current facility.

But patrons questioned many aspects of the design: Why is the parking lot so large? Why does the building face away from the street? How are square rooms going to fit into circular walls? Why is the administration office so far away from the active learning area of the gym, art rooms, etc? Why aren't two stories included in the school?

French offered explanations for the design, and when patrons weren't happy with the answers he said they could take the ideas into consideration. After all, the drawings represent a general idea.

But that aspect prompted another question: why is everything so vague?

Kobza responded by saying it helps to keep the design flexible, and architects don't come cheap, either. If the bond doesn't pass, the district would probably make changes when it presented the issue again anyway.

As the board rehashes things with the architects, Johnson said the best way for patrons to keep updated would be to attend board meetings. As he wrapped things up, Johnson asked people to get out to vote Tuesday.

"We encourage you to vote yes," he said, "but vote anyway."

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