Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2001

School facilities finally draw a crowd

June 27, 2001

The Baldwin City Board of Education finally got the turnout it was looking for.

The attendance for the fourth school facilities informational meeting Monday night at the Baldwin High School cafeteria was close to 60. While there were a few community members present, the majority of the turnout was made up of school faculty.

Supt. James White said he was pleased with the turnout.

White, school board president Ed Schulte and architect Bill Woodhouse presented the 15-year plan for school facilities designed by architectural firm Frangkiser Hutchens, listened to concerns and answered questions.

Even though the crowd was bigger, many of the questions regarding long-range facilities were similar to earlier meetings.

With the cost of the first bond, which could be as early as this fall, between $7.8 million and $8 million, much of the concern from the people in attendance was the type of elementary school that will be built.

Currently plans are for either a kindergarten, first and second grade building or a third, fourth and fifth grade building to be built.

One member of the audience suggested having neighborhood schools, which would include all of the elementary grades in one school instead of splitting the schools by grades. Then parents would be able to drop their kids off at one school instead of having to travel to separate schools.

Schulte said the distance between the schools wouldn't be a problem because the schools would only be four or five blocks apart.

"And I don't think we should divide the elementary schools so it's this school against that school," Schulte said. "We don't want it to be competitive."

One teacher said she would like to see a school designed with smaller toilets, water fountains and sinks that would cater to the younger, smaller students.

But another audience member wanted to know what would happen if the school that was designed for smaller students was needed at a future date for older students too big for mini facilities.

A question about remodeling the current Baldwin Elementary School was also raised.

"So far we've not given a lot of thought to that," White said. "It's probably something we should address."

With the current 15-year plan, an elementary school will be built on the 92-acre site by 2003, followed by a junior high school eight or nine years later.

There was concern about having a junior high school and an elementary school on the same site and the possible problems that could arise from having younger students near older ones.

Woodhouse said because of the amount of land the school district has purchased, it shouldn't be a problem.

"The elementary school will be built on 15 acres. The junior high will be built on 20 to 25 acres," he said. "We can put the two schools on separate ends and still have plenty of room between them."

One Baldwin Junior High teacher was concerned about the lack of space at the current junior high.

White said the addition of the new science and home economics rooms from the first bond would help with the overcrowding.

"Those rooms would give us sufficient space to overcome crowding until the new junior high could be built," he said.

The number of seats in the auditorium was also an item of concern.

Currently, the 650 seats is planned. But some people said they would like to increase the number of seats to 1000.

Woodhouse said it would be possible, but parking and cost would have to be addressed.

"The cost for the auditorium could go from $4 million to $7 million or so," he said.

The issue of new ball fields being built at some point on the 92 acres was also addressed.

Woodhouse said there are no plans currently to build any ball fields, but that could change in the future.

"Ball fields would also have a bearing on where the auditorium is built," he said.

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