Community needs voice in middle school
The community awarded itself a bonus last week when it approved the Eudora school district's $16 million bond issue.
The bonus is the current middle school. The city has expressed interest in the building, and school district officials have indicated a willingness to talk.
A visit to De Soto reveals the benefits of such cooperation. When the school district had no more use for a building that had served the community for nearly eight decades as first a high school and then middle school, it sold the building and surrounding property to the city for $10. The original school building has been renovated into a city hall, the old cafeteria is the home of that community's senior center and its gymnasium hosts numerous gatherings.
De Soto also provides a warning. The city hall renovation cost the city $1.2 million and the gymnasium required expensive upgrades and continual maintenance. Renovation always carries that risk because of the uncertainty of what is behind old walls and the demands of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The De Soto experience suggests the need for careful consideration of plans for the middle school. That shouldn't be a problem because it will be August 2003 before the school district can finally rid itself of the building.
The city needs to use that time to seek community involvement on the building's future. The better city leaders understand needs, the better they can plan for uses. Eudora taxpayers deserve nothing less. While their name may not show up on any title, they paid for the building once and approved the sacrifice that will make it obsolete.
Here's hoping the district maintains the building until its turnover and doesn't use the "not our problem" excuse for building maintenance for the next two years.