Bond issue discussion includes a new school
A new auditorium and new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center were the two primary items during a bond issue discussion at the school board meeting Monday night at Marion Springs Elementary School.
"Our community has been supportive of bond issues in the past," Board Member Alison Bauer said. "I think they know we don't bring these things to them lightly. These are needs we want to improve our school district with. We are in a bit of a hurry, but if we don't get it in time, we will take the longer road."
The bond issue has been discussed for a couple months, with the new auditorium as the focal point. The auditorium was originally in the plans when Baldwin High School was built in 1994.
The school district may work with the city and Baker University on building something to serve the community.
"If we can put together a concept of a community center that serves the needs of our community in more than one way, I think that's going to be advantageous to the community," Supt. James White said. "We could like to try and do that if at all possible for not only the city, Baker or the recreation commission, but many of the service organizations around the community."
There will be a meeting Oct. 20 at Baker University to discuss these plans.
During the bond issue discussion, White brought up the idea of building a new BESPC near the Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center. White said the district is spending money to repair the 50-year-old building and it might be time to consider building a new one.
"I think we kind of got into a brainstorming mode over the long-term needs that we might be experiencing over the course of the next five to 10 years," White said. "Certainly as we look at the cost of upgrading the current primary center against the cost of building a new building, we have to take into account those costs and how much money we want to put into an older building, as opposed to looking at the option of a new building."
White also said Baker University might be interested in the building or the land.
Board Member Scott Lauridsen said the issue comes down to which building is of a higher importance right now.
"The debate there is the timeline," Lauridsen said. "We are going to need a new school at some point. The discussion was whether we need that now or is an auditorium a more pressing need."
"The feeling right now is that there is a need for an auditorium," Lauridsen said. "We have issues with the primary center, but can we make it last before we have to build another one."
Community involvement is something Bauer would like to have on this issue.
"I would really like the community's thoughts on that," Bauer said. "When we made our long-range plan in 2000, we were still using it. Since then it has had more and more issues. The question becomes are we throwing good money after bad. I think a new elementary school needs to be the next thing on our radar, but I think we ought to ask the community first what it supports."
Then the board also discussed adding in money for technology upgrades around the district in the bond issue.
"One thing I don't see on our proposal that we need is that technology can be on the bond issue," Bauer said.
The technology discussion also brought up the point that more personnel would be needed, costing the district money.
Lauridsen thought technology upgrades cover several areas the district wants to improve on.
"That's a hard one to define, but I think there are four areas that technology fits in," Lauridsen said. "It's the security piece, teaching methodologies, state assessments and communication. It really covers those four areas that we spend a lot of money on."
Lauridsen also said if the district includes too many items in the bond issue, it might not pass.
"My problem is if this bond gets too large, it may not happen," Lauridsen said.
White said the board needs to determine where it wants to go with a possible bond issue.
"We really need to put together our thoughts on what we want to do on this bond issue," White said. "We need to decide a direction and where we want to go next."
At the meeting, the board also finalized the plans for the community survey, which will be starting Oct. 21.
"I'm real pleased and I am looking forward to the input that our patrons and parents can provide us," White said. "It certainly would give us a stronger feeling on how the people surveyed feel about a possible bond issue."
The next scheduled school board meeting is at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the district office.