Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Board briefed on bond options

September 21, 2006

Patrick Cady

Members of the Eudora USD 491 Board of Education took the role of students Thursday as they heard presentations from three different people concerning an district's next bond issue.

Although the presentations offered suggestions on how the bond issue might be formed, the goal of the speeches was to inform the board members how to think as the district moves forward with planning and running a citizen advisory group.

"As you come up with the decisions you need to make, you need to prioritize those decisions," Superintendent Marty Kobza said.

The board members first heard from district curriculum director Don Grosdidier, who spoke on academic consideration in new facility planning.

Grosdidier looked at aspects of the bond from grade formations, to class sizes and making the environment as conducive to learning as possible

"Hopefully, we're in a position that we can make the education priority a chief concern or one of the chief concerns," Grosdidier said.

With the expansion of an elementary school and construction of a new one on the table, consideration had to be given what grade levels would attend them, Grosdidier said. Nationally, about a third of the elementary schools included classes from kindergarten to fifth grade, he said.

"That doesn't mean that's the best configuration. That's just what statistics say nationwide are the most poplar," he said. "The question you should look at is, 'What grades should be grouped together in one school.'"

No one configuration has been proven much better than the others, Grosdidier said. Board members would need to consider other factors, such as how many times a student would have to change from school to school, he said.

The board members would also need to look at the future consequences of the next bond issue.

One aspect of Eudora's continuing growth would be a more diverse student population, Grosdidier said.

"This is the key because as I look at where we've come in education and I look where going and I look at the challenges advancing ahead of us, it's all about diversity and diverse populations," Grosdidier said. "It's something we haven't thought about a lot in Eudora, and it's be coming a bigger and bigger challenge.

The district will have to find a way to meet that challenge, Grosdidier said.

"Probably the best way to deal with a diverse student population that achieve at a different achievement levels, is to attack that problem through technology," Grosdidier said. "Technology is a key component to this whole thing."

As discussion continues, Grosdidier urged the board members to use academics as a frame to make decisions on the bond.

"What can we do to get the biggest bang out of our buck so to speak," Grosdidier said.

Kobza echoed Grosdidier's point.

"You're top consideration is academics. Your top consideration is what do we do for the kids," Kobza said.

Kobza presented possible expansion and bond options.

"What we tried to do with each option was to keep the capacity of the elementary schools (grades) one through five under a thousand students," Kobza said.

Board members Brenda Clarke and Mark Chrislip wondered if using 1,000 was too small of a number.

"It almost potentially seems like a low ceiling to me," Chrislip said.

Kobza listed options with a number of assumptions, which allowed for the building of a new grade school and the options of keeping or selling Laws Field or the Community Learning Center.

The board will use the options presented by Kobza as a starting point for the citizen advisory group that is to meet three times in October.

The board members heard a final presentation from district communications director Kristin Magette on how the district plans on spreading information about the bond.

"What you do now is you just wait, and think about it for yourself and wait for the community advisory committee to bring back the information to you and what they think and, you'll combine those with your own thoughts and well go from there," Kobza said.

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