Archive for Wednesday, November 23, 2005

School officials to debate next step

November 23, 2005

What plan and when to offer it.

As it pertains to future new school construction plans in the Basehor-Linwood school district, those are two decisions administrators soon will try to answer.

"What plan do we offer the public in the future ... and when do we offer it," school Superintendent Jill Hackett said. "We've got to come together and see what we can live with."

Next week, administrators will meet with Basehor-Linwood school board members to discuss buildings. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the school board offices, 155th Street and Parallel Road.

Earlier this month, school district voters rejected a $22.9 million bond issue that would have paid for a new elementary school and renovations to each school in the district except Basehor-Linwood High School.

The bond defeat marked the seventh time in the last 15 years voters have rejected a bond issue. It leaves the district scrambling, working to handle an increasing enrollment.

Hackett said school officials and the district's architectural firm, Horst, Karst and Terrill, are researching how much the $22.9 million plan might change if it were put before voters next spring or during the general election in November 2006.

Hackett said the plan put before voters was the right plan.

"It's affordable, equitable and a plan that sets us up for the future," she said.

The school district hasn't ruled out proposing an entirely different plan, either. Hackett said the district would consider -- in addition to numerous other scenarios -- proposing a plan that would include a new middle school.

Whatever a future plan may look like, Hackett said, it will most likely include a new elementary school.

"Any way you look at it, we have to have a new elementary school," she said.

At their Wednesday meeting, school officials also will discuss intermediate plans. Hackett said officials would attempt to shape a plan for "the students that are going to come to us."

With the number of residential developments under construction within the school district, officials estimate the district will see between 50 and 75 new students per year.

"I think the problem is pretty evident -- we're going to be drastically overcrowded," Hackett said.

She listed increasing class sizes, taking homerooms away from music and art teachers in the elementary schools and reconfiguring grades as measures the district could take in dealing with crowded schools. Any grade reconfiguration would have to include adding new students to the high school, which is the only school in the district with available space, administrators said.

An option not likely for the school district is adding modular classrooms, which Hackett described as not attractive to administrators and one that is "not appealing to the public."

Hackett said the school district has enhanced all aspects of its operation, most notably student achievement, and to continue doing so "we need space so we can keep moving forward."

The first step in this post-bond issue era is deciding where to go from here, she said.

"There's some hard discussions we're going to have," Hackett said.

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