Architect offers to draw plans for Baldwin Junior High auditorium remodel at no cost
Two developments have given the Baldwin school board more to consider in its ongoing discussion of district facilities.
The issue has been before the board since April, when it received recommendations from district administrators about the future uses of all district properties.
As the discussion continued at a special meeting Monday, the board learned that the district architect has offered to produce a remodeling plan for the old Baldwin Junior High School auditorium at no cost to the district and that Neosho County Community College is interested in leasing part of the closed Vinland Elementary School.
The most pressing issue before the board is whether to spend the about $600,000 in funds remaining from the 2008 bond issue on remodeling the old junior high auditorium or dedicate the money to retirement of bond debt and interest.
“Since our last meeting, I’ve certainly heard from people who want us to pay down the debt,” said board member Sandy Chapman.
But she and other board members weren’t ready to make that decision Monday.
Superintendent Paul Dorathy said the board did face a decision on the money in regard to the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget that will be crafted in the next two months.
The board could keep the money in reserve as it explores remodeling options for another year and ultimately use the funds to retire the bond debt, Dorathy said. But he said if board members wanted to use the money to reduce the mill levy for debt and interest in the district’s 2012-2013 budget, they needed to make that decision at their June 24 meeting.
Complicating the discussion is the board’s uncertainty about what $600,000 could accomplish in the old auditorium and what the reuses of that space would be. Among the uses the board has discussed is it be a wrestling and cheerleading practice facility should the old gymnasium of Chapel Street be sold, added storage space and a weight-lifting room.
Board member Ruth Barkley said she toured the old auditorium after the board’s last meeting and found there was a good deal of space behind the stage. She suggested that could be used for classrooms.
Kevin Grieshar, of the district’s architectural firm DLR Group, has agreed to develop a plan for the space based on district needs at no cost to the district, board President Ande Parks said.
To do that correctly, the architect would first meet with a committee of board representatives, building principals and junior high and high school faculty to identify needs, Dorathy said. That process would require time beyond the June 24 deadline for the 2012-2013 budget, it was agreed.
In another facilities matter, Dorathy said he met with Neosho County Community College officials interested in leasing the closed Vinland Elementary School for welding and construction classes. The community college was interested in the school’s gymnasium and bathrooms, he said.
Community college officials would like to start classes at Vinland in January, Dorathy said. Should the courses prove successful, the college would be interested in leasing additional space at the school for other classes.
The college understands the board wants to lease the building at a fair rate, Dorathy said. But he said no figure had yet been developed.
Should Neosho County start using Vinland, it would end any possibility the district could use it for classes, Dorathy said. Vinland has been suggested as a possible home for the East Central Kansas Cooperative or temporary overflow classrooms should Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate School’s enrollment exceed its capacity.
That prospect of losing the Vinland classroom option made Parks and other board members uneasy, especially without lease details.
“I’d like to know what kind of dollars we would get,” Parks said. “If it’s $20,000 a year, it’s not worth it. If it’s $120,000, that’s different.”
The board will again take up the facilities’ discussion at its June 24 meeting.
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