School news

A committee of school board members interested in prioritizing facility needs was formed during Monday night’s Abilene Board of Education meeting.

“We obviously know there are certain needs that we’ve got,” said Board President Kyle Becker. “I’d like to get some community feedback on what they (community members) feel are more of a priority than others.”

Abilene school district patrons approved a $24.2 million bond issue in 2014 to raise funds to build Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary, new additions at Abilene High School and one at Abilene Middle School, renovate areas at both schools, create secure entries at McKinley and Kennedy elementary and do other work.

The project also was supposed to include renovations on the high school vocational/agriculture building, a new bus barn and improvements at the football stadium. Unfortunately, the money did not go far enough and those areas were left undone.

“The bond issue that was passed in 2014 was very effective in taking care of a lot of needs. You all know — better than I do — there are a few smaller pieces that were kind of left unaddressed due to the limitations of funding we were able to generate with the bond issue,” explained Superintendent Greg Brown.

Since then the school district has been setting aside capital outlay money to go toward completing the projects left undone. Brown said he’d like the committee to start thinking about a course of action that “hopefully will lead to something the entire board would act on in the not-too-distant future,” he said.

Board members Jeff Bathurst and Chris West volunteered to serve on the committee along with Becker and Brown.

In addition to the regular monthly school board meetings, the board committee will meet monthly so it keeps the facility improvement project on the front burner.

“To some of us, it feels like it’s always getting pushed down the road 30 days and it takes a lot longer,” Becker said.

Board members Randy Gassman and Gregg Noel asked if the committee wants suggestions from the public.

“I felt it would be worthwhile to bounce ideas off these three (Becker, Bathurst and West) and get help from the outside as well,” Brown said.

The board has talked extensively about the need for a new bus barn and vo-ag building in the past; however, one new change this school year frees up space in the vo-ag building. Auto shop classes will be taught at Salina Technical College. That move became necessary when a new auto mechanics teacher could not be found.

With that space not being used, it may be an opportunity to utilize it differently, Becker said.

“Obviously we still have some needs with either reworking the tennis courts and/or football stadium,” Becker added. “I think it’s important to get community feedback as to what we’re thinking the steps are and get some options.”

District patrons interested in providing input may contact Superintendent Brown at the district office, or Becker.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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