Abilene Board of Education members are looking to tackle two of the three projects left undone from the 2014 $24.2 million bond issue to improve district facilities.
When bids came in higher than expected, the board decided to put the money into school buildings and deal with issues at non-school facilities at a later time.
Left undone was building a new bus barn, renovating the vocational-agriculture building and adding a locker room at Cowboy Stadium.
During last Monday’s meeting, the board received some ballpark figures showing what it might cost to build a new bus barn.
“This is our first shot looking at what a commercial building big enough to meet our needs might look like and cost,” Asstant Superintendent Chris Cooper explained after the meeting. “We can’t really talk about the cost because we’ll eventually ask for companies to give us bids.”
Information the board received is based on a 70-foot by 110-foot commercial building equipped with water, sewer and electricity including a three-bay bus barn with a wash bay, office space and bathrooms.
Interim Superintendent Gary Nelson added that the bus barn also has to have a place for bus drivers to gather because they “are required to have safety meetings.”
Like the current bus barn, a separate area also would be created for use as the District Maintenance Office used by Maintenance Supervisor Dave Canfield and his staff. That portion includes a shop area where staff build furniture and cabinetry used in the schools and other facilities.
The new bus barn might either be located at the present location on the Abilene High School campus or somewhere else. Ideally, it would be nice to have the bus barn/maintenance office near the school but it’s not a necessity, Cooper explained.
“There’s been some conversations about where would it go if we kept it at the current location, but no decisions have been made about where it’s going,” Cooper said. “It’s convenient, particularly with our vans and cars, but it wouldn’t have to be on site. We’d like to have maintenance close because they’re between buildings all the time, but the buses could be off campus.”
The board also received a draft plan showing possible changes that could be made to the existing vocational-agriculture building.
“They took an existing drawing and moved some lines on it,” Cooper said. “I see some issues right away with the layout here, but the next step is getting with the people who live in that space everyday.”
Board Member Chris West said before plans can be made it’s important to talk to people who actually do the jobs students will be taught. For instance, he suggested talking to a welder to find out what they would want in a shop layout.
“Anybody you want at the table to talk about what should be in the building, what should be in the space, what kind of storage needs you have — all those details will be part of the design, the refining process,” Cooper said.
Board Member Kyle Becker noted that no plans could be made until the fate of the automotive tech program is known. The current AHS auto tech instructor will be moving to a different job as a math teacher next school year. In the month since the current instructor resigned, there have been no applicants for the job.
Administrators are looking into other options for students interested in the auto tech program, including some type of partnership from Salina Area Technology College; however, nothing has been set in stone.
As for building a bus barn or renovating the vo-ag building, Cooper emphasized the board is in the very early stages of gathering information.
“We are just looking at some rough plans. They’re not designs, just basic drawings. Once they get it narrowed down to what they want, we will ask for bids,” Cooper explained. “But we’re going to keep moving forward with it. It’s a few months’ process, not weeks.”
Contact Kathy Hageman at email@example.com.