Students may tackle building needs

Register City Editor

The mission for Iola High School’s building trades class students may change in another year.
USD 257 board members looked through a list of maintenance projects Monday night and suggested construction of a combination bus barn, storage area and maintenance shop by the students.
Each year students build a house to learn building trades skills, then sell it to recoup the cost of materials. A project to meet district needs would teach the same skills, board members reasoned.
Don Burns, director of maintenance, noted that with sale of LaHarpe School and two nearby sheds, the district was left scrambling for storage space. For years board members have discussed a bus barn where mechanical chores on the district’s vehicle fleet could be tackled. Burns said making space for a larger maintenance shop would also be welcome.
Board members took no action, but will look at the proposal during strategic planning sessions and later in the year.
Burns had a list of other maintenance needs including major roof work at McKinley Elementary School; replacement of aging heating and air-conditioning components; repairs to parking areas along the north and west sides of the high school; locker room upgrades and repairs; and attention to drainage problems, in concert with the city, at the sports complex in Riverside Park.
Burns also proposed replacing two entry doors at the high school. Heavy duty ones that could be expected to take the punishment of repeated and sometimes rough opening hundreds of times of a day would cost $20,000. Less expensive ones could be installed, he said, but likely would not last long.

DR. CRAIG Neuenswander, superintendent of schools, told board members to prepare themselves for funding cuts later this year.
He handed them a copy of an Associated Press story that said increased student numbers and declining property values had punched “a $70 million hole in the state’s already shaky budget.”
The forecast is that per-pupil base state aid, now at $4,218, might fall as much as $85, which would translate to a reduction of more than $100,000 for USD 257.
“We could handle that with reserves, but we’d have to think about what we would do the following year,” Neuenswander said.
Board members will meet in a planning session Nov. 4 to consider finances.
Neuenswander, as a point of information, noted that migration of students from within USD 257 to Marmaton Valley schools in Moran settled out at 76, 17 more than a year ago. Earlier figures were 82 and 22.