--Benton school: Saturday, Jan. 16, at 2 p.m.
--Northwest school Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m.
--Eastwood school: Thursday, Jan. 21, at 1 p.m.
--Bueker Middle School: Thursday, Jan. 21, at 5:30 p.m.
Each meeting includes a building tour followed by question and answer session. The district is seeking input from the community about preferences for a site, should a bond issue pass and new elementary school be built. The district is also asking whether voters prefer a new school or renovation of existing buildings.
Although attendance was sparse at the first meeting, held Monday, Jan. 11, at Eastwood Elementary School, more people showed up for the meeting Thursday, Jan. 14, at Southeast school. And both meetings included lively discussion of the facility issues facing the district.
Each meeting began with tours of the buildings. Southeast and Eastwood are considered the two buildings with the most serious problems. Eastwood is the building the district's construction management firm recommended be vacated if a new school is built.
The tours illustrated crowded conditions and chronic maintenance problems at both buildings.
Eastwood also has accessibility problems. Disabled students have to be taken outside and around to a rear door to get to the cafeteria, and that was a factor Titan Construction cited as key to its recommendation to vacate the school if possible.
Southeast school's problems are more evident at a quick glance, with a storage and wiring closet that has paint peeling from the walls and ceiling due to moisture that escapes from the boiler room.
The basement boiler room at Southeast also shows more deterioration, with water running from a crawlspace access across the floor.
During discussions both nights, no one argued against the need for action on the problems with the aging schools, but several community members questioned the district's current plan to build a three-grade school.
A vocal critic of the new school plan, Walt Keith, was at both meetings. His concerns are with the price tag -- currently about $16 million -- and with the timing of the bond issue.
Lucy Fletcher, chairman of the county's Preservation Committee, which is overseeing the renovation of the courthouse, spoke at the meeting Thursday, urging district officials to consider the renovation plan rather than building a new school.
School board members have been present at each meeting, as they were during public meetings in the fall.
Board President Larry Godsey attended the meeting at Eastwood. Cindy Brandt, Kathy Green and Teri Wright attended the meeting at Southeast.
Each offered explanations for their planning process so far and assured voters that they are paying attention to the concerns and preferences they are bringing to the discussion.