George Clemens, committee chairman, said his committee has made a lot of progress but is not ready to make a recommendation to the school board. In fact, he said, it could be next spring before a recommendation is presented.
In highlighting the activity of the committee, Clemens said the group has toured every facility in Marshall as well as those of Sedalia, Knob Noster, Moberly and Columbia. In addition, committee members have looked at school configurations and facility design trends, state requirements for buildings and the financing of similar building projects.
Members of the committee have surveyed local teachers and administrators, looked for public input and explored bond issue promotion locally and nationally.
Clemens also noted that the group has heard presentations from Ron Berry of the University of Missouri-Columbia and Deborah Orr, elementary principal from Warrensburg, concerning educational trends.
The culmination of the efforts to date are several working suggestions which Clemens said were subject to change based on "future research, exploration, experience and discovery."
First on the list of suggestions is to repair Bueker Middle School in a manner that will make it last an additional 15 to 20 years. Clemens described the school as a "sacred cow" of the community and said whatever plumbing, wiring and air conditioning work was necessary would be acceptable.
Next among the suggestions is to build one new elementary school which would service three grades. Clemens said this might be kindergarten through second grade or third grade through fifth grade. Three of the four elementary school buildings currently in use would then be used for the remaining elementary students in a K-2 or 3-5 alignment.
"Fundamental to the framework of our suggestions is the agreement that we will do away with the single grade/single building school approach," Clemens said, adding that Marshall is the only area school district to use this configuration.
The group's suggestions also include air conditioning the elementary school facilities with temporary window units that could be replaced with the passage of a bond issue in the future and air conditioning the industrial arts building at the high school as well.
The final suggestion was to move the Saline County High School from its leased space to the elementary building that would not be used if the new elementary school is built.
Clemens said that regardless of what plan is eventually undertaken, it should be far-sighted.
"It appears that the committee is in agreement that any plan developed would best serve the students of Marshall public schools and the community if it is one which addresses the long-term facility needs," he said.
The plan should include not only immediate goals, but also ideas for what to do 20 to 30 years into the future, Clemens added.
The committee is keeping a number of issues at the forefront, Clemens said. These include keeping the costs of the plan in relation to the local economy and addressing issues raised during the last two attempts to pass a bond issue.
Board members were given a written copy of Clemens' presentation to review for consideration.
An additional meeting between board members and the committee will be scheduled in the near future so the suggestions can be discussed and the board can give the committee some direction.