Archive for Thursday, December 13, 2007

Facility survey shows new buildings aren’t favored

December 13, 2007

Well, survey results are in on Baldwin School District's facilities.

According to the results, a new building, whether that would be a high school or elementary school, is not highly supported. However, renovations and upgrades to Baldwin Junior High School are top priority.

The results weren't shocking to School Board Member Ande Parks, who is serving on the district's facilites' committee.

"I was only mildly surprised," Parks said. "Whenever people are asked questions like that, they are going to respond more to functional needs of a facility. That doesn't surprise me. It does point out that the board needs to do a better job of educating the public about what our needs are."

The district hired Jayhawk Consulting to survey the community about facility issues that might be on a bond issue. A total of 300 community members were polled, 38 percent of which have children in the district. The rest were community patrons.

Voters were given three choices for the facility ideas: high, medium or low priority. The two other responses were not do it and not sure.

The question of building a new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center didn't get a good response from the survey. While 21 percent said it is a high priority, 31 percent said medium and 32 said it is a low priority. Three percent said not build it and 13 percent weren't sure.

"That was a bit surprising to me," Parks said. "Many, many of the surveyors haven't been in that building in a long time, because it's definitely a facility that has a lot of issues. It all goes back to educating the public. Also some of it might be attached to the location, because many people don't want to move the school."

The results from the elementary question were more positive than those from the one about building a new high school. A total of 43 percent of surveyors said no to a new high school, 28 percent said yes and the other 28 percent said they would need more info.

Jayhawk Consulting suggested that the committee abandon the idea of building a new high school because of the lack of support and the price tag it will carry.

"I wasn't shocked by this result," Parks said. "It carries a heavy price tag and there would still be other issues at the other buildings."

The building that did receive support on the survey was BJHS. A new roof at the school received a 47 percent high priority and 28 percent medium priority vote.

When asked about air quality and air conditioning renovations at BJHS, the surveyors said they were a 28 percent high, 38 percent medium and 14 percent low priority.

Surveyors were also asked about renovating and expanding the library and fine arts areas. The results came back as 31 percent high, 39 percent medium and 17 percent low priority.

The other question regarding BJHS asked about renovating the gymnasium to meet accessibility standards and modernization to today's standard for a middle school. Twenty six percent of the surveyors said that's a high priority, while 44 percent said medium and 14 percent said it's a low priority.

"The junior high is a very public building, which might be the reason for the results it received," Parks said. "That building is used a lot, whether it be the auditorium or the gym. I would credit the results to that."

The other two questions regarding the school buildings dealt with BHS. The first was about a 750-seat performing arts center. Its was given an 18 percent high priority, 34 percent medium and 35 percent low priority. The other 13 percent weren't sure.

The other question asked if the district should modify the existing gym into a competition gym and build new locker rooms adjacent to the gym. Only 16 percent of the surveyors said it's a high priority, while 38 percent said it was a medium priority and 29 percent said its low.

The final question of the survey asked community members how much of a property tax increase per month they could support if a bond issue would happen. The highest percentage, 34 percent, said no increase, 33 percent said up to $5, 15 percent said up to $10 and only 5 percent would support more than $10 per month extra.

"I think what we got there was information on how the community feels about facilities within this district," Dorathy said. "I think the results will guide us to a decision on the facilities committee. I think it was very important to get that information.

"We will take that information from the survey and what we already determined were needs and fit those into what the survey said the public will support," Dorathy said. "Our next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 7."

The survey did not ask patrons if they favored building a new track or other athletic facilities that has been discussed in the past.

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