Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2006

School board discusses facility, bond issue needs

December 14, 2006

Before it begins making plans for new facilities, the Baldwin Board of Education wants to find its architect and financial advisor first.

Supt. Paul Dorathy told the board Monday night that finding the right people to work with will be important.

"If you're going to look at a bond issue, that is one of the first steps," Dorathy said. "You need to get an architect and financial advisor selected, because they are going to be very involved in helping you plan things."

Near the end of the facilities discussion, Dorathy brought up the idea of finding an architect and financial advisor to help with a possible bond issue.

He said the board could find the right people in two ways.

"We can do interviews or go out and say this is who we want to work with," Dorathy said.

Board Member Ande Parks expressed his feelings about finding the best person available.

"I did want to shop around a bit," Parks said. "It's healthy. My preference would be to shop around and look around a bit."

A few other board members were also interested in looking for the best person or company to work with. That's when Dorathy suggested that the school board ask area school boards, such as Eudora and Wellsville, who they have used for bond issues.

The board decided to ask other schools and other people before making a decision. Then it will bring candidates in for interviews and make a decision based on those.

The other important part of the facilities discussion revolved around the previous plans that were done in 2000 and 2005. Dorathy said he has been studying those plans and said they just need to be updated.

"We are not reinventing the wheel here," Dorathy said. "We sort of have a master plan. I'm willing to jump in there and get this started. Then take it to some meetings and get public input."

One thing the board still wants to keep in mind when planning the facilities is the Intermodal and Logistics Park that will be between Gardner and Edgerton.

It will be a hub for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The facility will become part of BNSF's chain for moving cargo by train to the park. From there, the freight would be stored in private warehouses or dispersed throughout the Midwest by train or truck.

"I bring that up because that's something we need to remember," Dorathy said. "You can be proactive and be like if you build it they will come sort of thing or you can be reactive and sit back to see how many students we get."

Board President Alison Bauer said she would rather be ready for any growth that might occur. She just isn't sure what growth might happen, if any.

"It depends on if you believe what the railroad (BNSF) says or not," Bauer said. "They are trying to provide information and be up front with people, but it's my understanding that the Intermodal they built down in Texas hasn't experienced the growth around it like they predicted.

"It may have increased growth, I just don't know to what degree," Bauer said. "We need to study that further and find out what the effects are on communities like ours. I'd rather be proactive than reactive and be ready."

Dorathy attended the Intermodal informational meeting in Ottawa last week and reported on it Monday. He said that the hub will open in December 2008 and it will bring in 6,000 to 7,000 jobs and that may increase to 10,000.

He also reported BNSF said the surrounding towns of Wellsville, Ottawa, Eudora and Baldwin City will be affected.

"It is coming, there is no question about that," Dorathy said. "How many people come to Baldwin, we don't know."

The school board will continue working on its facility plans at its next meeting on Jan. 8.

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