Thursday, August 28, 2014

Facilities group to mull bond, but first pick leaders

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 12/9/2013

A 22-member panel is set to draft a blueprint for facility upgrades in the Ottawa school district.

The school district’s new Community Facilities Committee recently met to review and discuss district facility needs — identified by the staff and site councils of the district’s five school buildings — and plans to meet again Monday to elect a committee chair and vice chair and set about its work.

A 22-member panel is set to draft a blueprint for facility upgrades in the Ottawa school district.

The school district’s new Community Facilities Committee recently met to review and discuss district facility needs — identified by the staff and site councils of the district’s five school buildings — and plans to meet again Monday to elect a committee chair and vice chair and set about its work.

The district has launched a facilities upgrade initiative, based on the results of a community survey conducted earlier this year by ETC Institute that gauged public opinion about what renovations might win community support. The survey, delivered to the district in March by the Olathe research firm, showed 84 percent of respondents said they would support improvements to OHS, with 71 percent in favor of remodeling the high school.

The goal of the committee, which represents a broad cross-section of the community, is to determine the needs and course of action to ensure every student in the Ottawa school district has a bright future, Jeanne Stroh, Ottawa superintendent, said.

The committee will be asked to analyze facility needs, set priorities and make its recommendations to the Ottawa school board.

The community-engagement campaign is expected to culminate with a possible bond issue to be put before voters in the November 2014 general election to help pay for improvements identified by the committee, though Stroh said in a recent interview school officials do not have a preconceived list of improvements, what they will cost and how they will be funded.

The improvements, and timeline for making those upgrades, will be left to the committee, she said, and the school board, district administrators and staff are prepared to honor the committee’s decisions.

Though not an inclusive list, some of the needs identified by staff and site councils for each building include:

• Eugene Field Elementary School, 720 Tremont Ave. — More and larger classrooms, more storage space, two special education rooms, early childhood education facility, eliminate need for modulars, security upgrades including a new secured entrance, and adequate office space.

• Garfield Elementary School, 1213 S. College St. — Group rooms for grade levels, art room with a sink, increase to a four-section school, key pads on all outside doors, more classrooms, private testing rooms, heating and cooling system upgrades, additional computer lab, upgrade security system, more handicapped parking, and an auditorium with a stage.

• Lincoln Elementary School, 1102 N. Milner Road — Expand parking, additional security measures, additional program/classroom space, and playground, sidewalk and other building upgrades.  

• Ottawa Middle School, 1230 S. Ash St. — New carpets, band storage lockers, main entrance alterations, update computers, stage curtains, update locker room plumbing, ventilation for wood shop, and more building storage.

• Ottawa High School, 1120 S. Ash St. — Update science facilities, improve career and technical education facilities, add a performing arts center, update office/administrative facilities, update locker room facilities, update configuration of the 200 hallway classrooms, and update rest room facilities in the Cyclone Room.

The five schools also identified the need for a number of technology upgrades.

At its initial meeting Nov. 18 to review facility needs, the committee asked to arrange for a tour of each building, Stroh said, adding that she thought the meeting went well.

“I will try to arrange for the tours to take place during the day, because I think it’s important for committee members to see the schools when they are occupied [with staff and students],” she said.

comments powered by Disqus