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Marshall school officials still want new buildings, still remember failed bond issues of recent past

Friday, March 20, 2009

The current Marshall school board seems to have a strong consensus. Every candidate in recent years has agreed in principle if not on the details. School administrators rarely pass up an opportunity to make the point:

Marshall needs new schools.

It's almost a mantra for school officials and board members.

During a candidates forum prior to the April 2006 election, Larry Godsey got the biggest applause of the evening when he said, "We were excited about a new Wal-Mart and about a new golf course, but we didn't get excited about a new school."

Godsey, who is running for re-election this year, was expressing frustration with voters for shooting down three bond issues within several years, the most recent in April 2003.

The subject came up again Wednesday night during the school board's budget work session.

Board member Teri Wright posed the question after Superintendent Craig Noah finished giving an update on federal economic stimulus money the district will receive.

"Should we look at merging elementary campuses?" she said.

Noah was quick and unequivocal in his response.

"We need to have an elementary campus," he said, meaning a consolidated facility to bring elementary classes to one spot.

He was less certain about whether the time is right to pursue the project given the deepening economic recession.

Noah listed the reasons a new elementary facility is needed:

--Age. Eastwood and Benton elementary schools were built in the early 1920s. The newer schools, Southeast and Northwest, are each about a half-century old.

--Size. The elementary schools have been added to and have mobile units to expand capacity but each is chronically crowded.

--Maintenance. Noah lauded district maintenance workers for the job they do keeping the old schools going, but he noted that there are limits to what they can do and building infrastructure -- plumbing, heating, wiring -- remain cranky and expensive to operate.

Noah said the teachers and students do a great job learning in what he considers poor conditions.

"We do a great job with what we have," he said. "But it's not a good learning environment."

The same applies to Bueker Middle School, which was built about the same time as Eastwood and Benton, he said.

But he suggested the focus should first be on elementary schools, which are less expensive to build and would yield greater cost savings in the long run.

"We could save a tremendous amount of money by building an elementary campus," he said.

Godsey said the board was with him on the matter.

"You're preaching to the choir," he said. "We all want that. It's just convincing the public."

Noah said he hoped to start planning for the future of district facilities this summer.

There is some hope of short-term help for facilities.

Although details are still sketchy, Noah said federal economic stimulus money might help with things like buildings and buses. He said that money shouldn't be used for recurring costs, but it might help the district make much-needed improvements to facilities.

He told the board he expects to know more by July 1 about what the district will receive and how the money can be used.

In addition to Godsey and Wright, board members Cindy Brandt, Mark Gooden, Kathy Green, Sherrie Stouffer and President Anita Wright were present.

The board met in closed session prior to the budget work session to discuss personnel and legal issues.

The next regular meeting of the board is set for 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24.

The later-than-usual starting time will allow board members to attend the annual Academic Excellence Banquet being held the same evening.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

Related stories:
Public forum set to discuss school facilities:
Suggestions offered on school facilities:
Facility Committee works to further define possible school bond issue:
Presentation made to school board:
School bond plan to be discussed at special meeting:
Committee reviews pro-school bond efforts:
School bond issue rejected for third time:
Marshall school board candidates discuss issues:

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im in school and we dont need new schools the high school just needs carpet and some windows that will open

-- Posted by satelitekid on Mon, Mar 26, 2012, at 9:25 AM

couldn't agree with these comments more ...

litlmissme, you have great points, a consolidated campus would be wonderful. if i recall reading in a previous demo news article, however, not ALL of the teacher's potential pay-off will be payed by insurance though, there is a limit. how much would we get stuck with? anyone else know anything further on this?

1ofthegals ... you make two excellent points. need to wait til this crazy fired teachers lawsuit is settled, plus with this economy, who wants to spend more money now, especially with the school district on such a tight budget as it is anyway? the board members and administration can whine and wish all they want, but unless nobama's spendulus/porkulus bill comes through,they're just gonna have to wait and deal with reality.

reader101, you're also right in my humble opinion ... if we get any stimulus money for schools, it should go to build a new one, not to maintaining the current elementary schools. hopefully through all the red tape that could actually happen.

i'm surprised this article - the board members and administration again wanting a new school and their terrible timing to start whining about it - hasn't gotten more attention on here. although we ideally really do need a new elementary campus, and a new middle school, how can any school board/administration member really expect this right now? they must be wild-spending obamacrats ... wink.

did someone just open up another can of worms ... not wanting their kids on "that side of town"? i agree with you luvthoseowls ... "that side of town" would have been fine for a new school, would promote growth, but unfortunately you are right ... i could say more, but this time i'll hold my tongue .. errrr ... keyboard ... well, kind of.

it's just too bad all the "south siders" would be too inconvenienced to drive alllll the way up to the "north side" to get their kids to school. i'm sure a new school built in some pasture along either business 65 or hwy 65 would be just perfect for them. ;)

-- Posted by aikman8 on Sun, Mar 22, 2009, at 10:00 PM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
Two points of clarification: The board didn't suddenly start talking about new schools. I've been covering the district for three years and the subject has come up with some regularilty the whole while. Superintendent Craig Noah expressed doubt that the time is right for a bond issue. No one at the meeting suggested putting the issue on the ballot this year.

If the school board/district is seriously looking at trying again to get a bond issue past for new schools in the near future, then I don't think it would be practical to use any stimulus money we could get to make improvements on existing facilities. It would be better to put that money toward new facilities and reduce the cost to the taxpayers. It may have a much better chance of passing if they can show that it would be much cheaper now because of the stimulus funds being applied to the cost.

-- Posted by Reader101 on Sat, Mar 21, 2009, at 12:05 AM

Why would the out come of the legal situation have any effect on building a new school? If those teachers get a settlement it, (the money) would come from insurance not out of the schools budget.

-- Posted by litlmissme on Fri, Mar 20, 2009, at 6:40 PM

What about funding for schools from from the STATE FISCAL STABILAZATION FUND which is part of ARRA http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recover.... Contact DESE.

-- Posted by CWilli on Fri, Mar 20, 2009, at 4:08 PM

If I remember right, part of the opposition for the new schools was the location. Has anything changed in regard to WHERE they'd put this new campus?? I am in favor of new schools and I think the original location on the north side of town is fine. In my humble opinion, there are folks that just plain don't want their kids on that side of town.

-- Posted by luvthoseowls on Fri, Mar 20, 2009, at 4:08 PM


-- Posted by 1OFTHEGALS on Fri, Mar 20, 2009, at 3:59 PM

What a terrific idea. Not only are so many of our schools aging but also access to them is at best dangerous at the start of the day and at the end of the day. A new consolidated campus would be so great for parents of more than one child, to pick them up, drop them off and after school activities.

I for one am a supporter!

-- Posted by litlmissme on Fri, Mar 20, 2009, at 2:50 PM

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