Archive for Thursday, October 12, 2006

Advisory committee tours USD 491

October 12, 2006

As a citizen advisory committee embarked a fact-finding tour of Eudora USD 491 Thursday, district officials began discovering a few facts of their own on public opinion.

Thursday's tour was the first of three meetings designed to give the district information to tailor an upcoming bond issue now.

On Thursday, however, the district did the talking.

Committee members donned earpieces for an audio tour and filed onto a district school bus.

"We're going to take you back to school ---- literally," Eudora Superintendent Marty Kobza said.

The committee represented a cross-section of Eudora. Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle and Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty represented the city. Developers, parents and members of the Awareness Coalition of Eudora also took part.

The district invited Richard Campbell of the Eudora Planning Commission, who circulated a petition opposing a bond earlier in the year for the construction of a new football stadium.

The committee left the Eudora High School parking lot for Nottingham Elementary School.

On the way to Nottingham, Kobza assured the committee the first meeting was to get them up to speed with the district's current properties. Also, the superintendent urged the committee to start considering grade configurations within the district.

"Anything we're talking about are starting points for discussion," Kobza said.

Because Nottingham is one of the district's oldest properties and sits in prime real estate, it serves as a sort of linchpin for bond options drawn up by the district, Kobza said.

"What we decide to do with Nottingham Elementary School will affect all other choices," Kobza said.

After stopping in the parking lot, the committee filed off the bus to hear a presentation by the district's planning director Janell Barnow. She led the committee through the halls, telling them of issues with pipes, space and cramped conditions.

"We've used it and used it, and it's basically just showing its age," Barnow said.

In Nottingham's library, the group heard a presentation from Rob Schwartz of RSP & Associates LLC. The district hired RSP to define and predict growth patterns.

Schwartz explained RSP's method of using city and county records, economic information and statistical calculations in predicting the district's growth rate.

After hearing Schwartz's presentation, the committee filed back on the bus and traveled to Eudora West Elementary School.

There, the group followed Eudora West Elementary Principle Janet Irby to see the state of Eudora West.

"We are a straightforward elementary school (with) not a lot of bells and whistles, but it works well for us," Irby said.

West has no major structural issues, Irby said, but space is at a premium, Irby said.

That is especially true of the lunchroom, which also serves as a gym, she said.

"We lose two hours because of lunch," Irby said.

Next on the tour's itinerary was the Community Learning Center, another question mark surrounding the district's bond issue.

Kobza explained the center currently houses several of the district's technical education and adult education programs. Because of its age and location, the district faces a similar decision with the learning center of whether it would be best to sell the property as it does with Nottingham, he said.

After a tour of the district offices, the committee moved on to Eudora Middle School.

Eudora Middle School Principal Rich Proffitt directed the group through the halls to the sixth-grade classrooms. Four sixth grade classrooms are in the building and two ---- modular units ---- are outside.

In addition to EMS's basic layout, Proffitt showed the committee often crowded commons area.

The committee finished their tour at Eudora High School.

"This was built right," Principal Dale Sample said.

Sample told the committee EHS had been built so it could be easily expanded. Although it's in the best shape of all the district's schools, the next bond could include a new pod of science classrooms and an auditorium.

Reflecting on the two, committee member Linda Dreiling said the future of Nottingham should be an important factor in the next bond issue.

Erin Wellman was pleased to here about the current view of the bond's scale.

"I was glad to hear they could do everything they need to for $40 million," Wellman said.

A mother of two children not yet of school age, ACE member Devina Garrett said she realized the district was continually planning for its future growth. She just hopes the district does enough.

"I see so much potential here," Garrett said.

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