Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2005

Board considers new uses for old schools

May 26, 2005

Lansing School Board members continue to consider suggestions for uses of school buildings that will be left vacant by construction of a new Lansing Elementary School.

The board, at a special meeting Monday, heard proposed uses for the existing Lansing Elementary School, Lansing Intermediate School and the Sallie Zoll building. Students now attending school in those buildings will be relocated to the new elementary school, which is expected to be built in time for the 2007-08 school year.

Dale Bohannon, director of building and grounds for Lansing school district, presented options to the board for uses of the Sallie Zoll and elementary buildings. He said his sketches were preliminary to generate input from the administration.

Bohannon suggested using Sallie Zoll mainly for storage, turning the west end into a district warehouse for school supplies and using the east end for food storage. According to Bohannon's proposal, the warehouse would take up six classrooms, dry food storage would be in three classrooms, and one classroom would be converted into cold food storage.

Bohannon said that none of the schools had enough food storage space, and he said it would be safest for students if delivery trucks used a building other than a school.

The middle of the Sallie Zoll building, including the offices and the former gym, which is now used as a day care facility, would be used for maintenance. Bohannon said he could use the gym space as a shop; it would not be useful to convert back to a recreational gym, he said, because it is not regulation size and it has no spectator seating.

Bohannon said the area in Sallie Zoll would add about 7,400 square feet to the maintenance area. He said the offices in the current maintenance building would be converted into storage.

"We've got a lot of equipment stored outside than we need to get inside," he said.

For the elementary school, Bohannon's plan divided the building into three sections. The largest portion, 14,700 square feet, which includes the current offices and the gym, he proposed be used as district offices. He said the plan would double the size of the current office space and could include a permanent boardroom that could double as a room in which to hold staff in-service training.

Lansing Schools Superinten-dent Randal Bagby said the district could look into putting the current district office at 613 Holiday Plaza up for sale if the proposal to move the office to the elementary school was adopted.

Board president Shelly Gowdy said she was in favor of having a permanent boardroom.

"I think people are tired of traipsing all over the district," she said.

Gowdy also said that if the boardroom was wired with cameras and microphones it also could be used for distance learning programs.

Bohannon did not suggest uses for the other two areas in the elementary building, one including four classrooms and the library and the other consisting of 12 classrooms.

The four board members present at the meeting, Gowdy, Brian Bode, Stuart Lyon and Karalin Alsdurf, proposed various ideas for the leftover space in the elementary school. Bode suggested moving some high school classes to the building, potentially all freshman classes or those from a certain department.

Another suggestion was to have the Lansing Educational Achievement Program, known as LEAP, lease space in the building. Bagby said LEAP was run by a private company, not the school district, but that the money the district could earn from leasing the space could help to defray maintenance expenses on the building.

As for the Intermediate School building, board members discussed holding high school classes in the four classrooms on the building's west end.

Bode proposed walling off the east end of the intermediate building, which is sinking, and knocking that area down to create more parking. He said the school would retain the west-end classrooms, the auditorium and the gym, which could still be used for school functions.

Bode said "cooler heads have prevailed" in determining the uses for the buildings.

He said he realized the current proposals for building uses were more beneficial to the district than his original idea of giving the city the elementary building for $1 in exchange for the city extending Bittersweet Road to West Mary Street. He said he now thought the district should not sell any building to the city, but said the district should be open to allowing the Parks and Recreation Department to use gym facilities.

The board concluded the meeting after deciding to get more input on the needs of the high school before discussing matters again.

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