Archive for Thursday, June 29, 2006

Special ed co-op eager for move to new quarters

June 29, 2006

The Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative will have a new home for the coming school year.

Building 100 on the Veterans Administration campus in Leavenworth formerly housed the 60 students with special needs and the 50 faculty members of the co-op.

But the cost of recent renovations to the building have forced the Pioneer Group of Topeka, which owns the building to find a new tenant. That means the co-op -- unless it wants to pay a higher rent -- must find new quarters.

"We knew as soon as a new tenant was found that our days would be over," said Kevin Gullett, business manager with the Leavenworth school district. "We'd have to move."

Six districts make up the co-op including Leavenworth, Fort Leavenworth, Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie, Lansing and Easton. Each district, depending on size and the number of students in the co-op, is responsible for providing a percentage of financing for a new facility. The largest is Leavenworth with 34 percent and the smallest is Easton with 7.6 percent. The Basehor-Linwood School Board agreed, 5-0, at its May 30 meeting to contribute its share of 15.2 percent.

Gullett said each of the six districts will have some ownership in the co-op and will retain their equity interest.

"It was a big point to make sure that interest was protected," he said.

The good news is the Greenamyre Company in Leavenworth is willing to sell a space for the co-op to use at 1102 Industrial Ave. in Lansing. When completed, it will feature nine classrooms, a small library and a lunch and multipurpose room. The co-op also hopes to move its administrative offices -- which now are at 730 First Ter. in Lansing -- into the Industrial Avenue property as soon as the lease expires June 30, 2009, or sooner if the owner finds a new tenant for the building before this date.

The money saved from doing so will go toward paying for the new building, which will cost, with improvements, about $695,000.

Gullett said the co-op hopes to be moved in and ready to start school before Labor Day. If they do not make this goal, it will delay the starting of school. Students must be in school 177 days and Gullett said the co-op will find a way for students to make up these days by either extending the school year or school day.

"We are lucky we found a building for our kids," Gullett said. "And one that will last a long time."

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