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2 school tours illuminate building problems, voter concerns

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A storage closet at Southeast school shows evidence of paint damaged by moisture from the nearby boiler room.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
The Marshall school district's series of public meetings to provide information and seek input from the community about the bond issue planned for the April ballot continues tomorrow and into next week.

--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.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

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OK First I agree with "Constrution" We have some very talented and able people in the Marshall district. It is time that the people who care step up.

I also will give an idea to all of my age by telling I went to and old one room school. Smaller is betterweather it is schools or government. As far as how the Kids feel, well the most important issure in my opion is their health and saftey, and that isn't ussualy on children's mind, that is the adults responsabilty.

If there is paint peeling and such we need to Fix the problem that causes it. A bandaid paint job only works tocoverup the mess. Get to the nitty gritty and lets not TALK THIS TO DEATH

-- Posted by gotasayit on Wed, Jan 20, 2010, at 11:54 PM

Are we allowed to go back to neighborhood schools? I was under the impression that changed due to segregation of income classes? Or was there some other reason behind the decision to go to the current setup?

If any parents have ever been to any of the elementary schools at the beginning of the school day and the end of the school day it is quite congested with traffic from school busses and cars. If you go during the school day it is even hard to find a parking space due to the parking spaces being used by school employees.

-- Posted by RuralMarshall on Wed, Jan 20, 2010, at 10:54 PM


Dr. Noah and the school board moved that up. The information about how the remaining schools will be configured will be available in the next few weeks.

-- Posted by Citizens for the School Bond on Wed, Jan 20, 2010, at 7:50 AM

The Geringer property is the most cost effective and appropriate property for building a new grade 3-5 school. There are numerous reasons why our young students need a new grade integrated facility, these reasons have been reviewed enough. That said, now comes the question how will the 3 or 4 existing elementary schools be grade configured? Will they be single grade schools like we currently have or will we go back to a more productive K - 2 configuration in each school? We want our children to have the best education and the traditional multy-grade schools offers a better alternative to the single grade schools we now have. The public was told that Dr Noah would present to the school board by March 2010 the necessary research to make a decision on the grade configuration in the existing schools. We thus should have a decision by the school board, before the bond issue vote, on abolishing the failed experiment with single grade schools.

-- Posted by izaak on Tue, Jan 19, 2010, at 11:55 PM

Marshall school district Superintendent Craig Noah offers the following responses to farmersgranddaughter's questions:

1. Teachers are not being asked to take pay cuts, Missouri law does not allow school districts to reduce pay to its employee's.

2. The district expects everyone to do the best that they can at their positions in order for us to have a positive and productive school system. Anything other than that is unacceptable.

3. Anytime our kitchens need something replaced we do so quickly. Our menu is on our website, that should address this "no hot lunches" rumor.

4. If a principal request money for text books they get it. Example, the textbook budget for 2008-2009 for Beuker was $25,000 and this year it is $75,000 because that is the amount requested by the principal with input from their staff.

-- Posted by Eric Crump on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 6:01 PM

Let's be a bit progressive and make Marshall a better place. Yes, it will cost money. Too many people just want something for nothing. Maybe you didn't donate to the Hospital or YMCA--well it's time to do your fair share for our community. Everyone is on a fixed income. I wonder how the people of Marshall built Beuker-Eastwood-Southeast-Benton all in a span of about 10 years? They thought ahead. How was the economy in the 20's and 30's in rural Missouri?

Looks like they did it for the youth--and many benefitted. Now is our chance.

-- Posted by mu-grad on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 4:32 PM

To those of you who belive that we should just fix the old buildings. All buildings have a limited life span. There have been many construction advances and changes in energy efficiency, and advances in technology that require new construction not retrofitting. By your statements YOU!! have better be living in a log cabin and cooking your dinner over a fire than living in a home built in the last 20 years. If you your not than shame on you Hipocrites. Show a little pride in the future of America.

-- Posted by ambsun on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 3:47 PM

What the f,

You misunderstand me. I meant that 100 years could be squeezed out of the proposed new school. During those same 100 years, more new schools would need to be built for our children to replace all of the existing old schools.

It's one step at a time. Because of amount they are permitted to borrow, the school district can only build one school at this time. The others would follow.

-- Posted by Citizens for the School Bond on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 3:05 PM

Citizens for the School Bond said:

"Neighborhood schools don't guarantee any reduction in congestion. When the city is divided up into assigned school areas, people are still going to end up driving their child to a school because they are NOT going to end up going to a school across the street from their house."

No, you are right. Few will have a school right across the street but if you have children K-6 you can be sure that it will be in the neighborhood for more people than not. Can you or anyone tell me specfically why we did away with neighborhood schools in the first place?

Also, you said:

"Based on Marshall history, you could squeeze 100 years out of the new building"

Really? Do you think the high school has another 67 years in it?

-- Posted by What the f...... on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 12:46 PM

I have a couple of questions for the school administration !

1) How can we possibly consider new schools when our teachers are asked to take pay cuts across the board? This needs to be clarified!

2) Is it true that teachers and custodial staff were told not to take good care of Bueker and other buildings? This needs to be clarified. This information came from district personel.

3) We built a modern state of the art civic center for less money than what you say a new school will cost! Why is this school so much? Does the proposed building plan include precast materials from CoreSlab? At that price it certainly should.

4) What is more important - new schools or healthy nutritious lunches for our kids that are prepared properly on good equipment and by adequately experienced staff? I have heard that the board is avoiding the purchase or replacement of kitchen equipment or and that is why they are not providing "cooked" lunches for our kids. There are even some classes that do not have adequate numbers of textbooks available for students to use. This isn't do to expanding classes, it is due to poor management of financial resources and purchasing. The basic needs for our kids must be first and foremost.

It seems to me that these older buildings have not been adequately cared for and maintained over a course of several years. My child has attended school in each of these elementary buildings within the past 10 years. No mention was ever made of these problems then. Were the maintenance people doing their jobs then or just being told by administrators to continuously ignore simple maintenance issues and procedures? Or perhaps some of them were playing on computers and watching TV in their storage rooms!

Instead of making "band aid" repairs, hire professionals and fix the problems correctly!

Our economy is not sufficiently recovered yet to spend this kind of money. Give it a couple of years and try again! Right now, we are being taxed to death by our federal government, people struggle financially everyday (even in Marshall)and our kids starve at school and come home sick! Where is the justice in that?

Priorities are all messed up! Buy the land first and build later! Listen to us, not the federal and state government bureaucrats who continue to print money at the expense of our financial security and future.

Now is not the time for this! Government assistance may be even better in two or three years.

-- Posted by farmer'sgranddaughter on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 12:43 PM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
I'll pose your questions to school officials and report back. But one concern I can respond to: #4. The choice is not between nutrition and new schools. Funding for the two is completely separate. The food program is paid for out of operating funds. Same goes for textbooks and other supplies. The new school would be paid for with a debt service levy that could only be used to pay back bonds used to finance construction. The district can't spend more money on building repairs without cutting spending elsewhere -- salaries, supplies, etc. It could, however, upgrade and expand existing buildings with money from a bond issue, and that's one of the options the school board is considering.

No one likes taxes, much less new taxes. But ask yourself this; If there was one thing you could spend an extra $10 to 20 per month, to make Marshall a better place to live, what would it be? I'm not sure how schools can't be at the top of the list.

-- Posted by d3 on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 10:05 AM

When the new school does pass, and you know it will not go away until they get what they want.... I hope the new building is taken care of better than the old ones. Maybe a better maintenence department is needed instead of just janitors.

-- Posted by 1OFTHEGALS on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 8:03 AM

Let all work together on this issue. I do not see the need for a new school. I think there should be neighborhood schools.

Why can't we all just work together.. We, as a community could all work together to improve our schools. We all have talent, just think of all the money would could save if we all worked together. Lets set up a Work for Free Education Program. I am sure there is enough people that would be glad to scrap and paint the storage unit. Habitat for Humanity works.. Why can't we have a Work for Free Education Program. I am sure we could all make this work. Save Money.. Bring the Community Together... Educate ourselves and teach our children that we can all make a difference in what we have..not always what we can get... I am sure there can be some type of tax incentive for local businesses to help put our schools back together.

We are in a recession, jobs are slow, How can we add more taxes that we just can not afford.

How much would it cost to form a group to put a Work for Free Education Program?

How many people would work for free to save taxes?

There has to be a way for everybody to work together.

-- Posted by Construction on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 10:01 PM

what the f,

Neighborhood schools don't guarantee any reduction in congestion. When the city is divided up into assigned school areas, people are still going to end up driving their child to a school because they are NOT going to end up going to a school across the street from their house.

-- Posted by Citizens for the School Bond on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 9:50 PM

RuralMarshall said:

"How do you fix the limited parking and traffic congestion with renovations to the old schools?"

Well, first of all elemantary students don't drive a car like highschool kids do. The congestion you speak of is a direct result of doing away with neighborhood schools and forcing parents and busses to take a child all the way across town instead of the child walking or riding a bike to thier neighborhood school.

-- Posted by What the f...... on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 6:34 PM

I would like to hear opinions on school sites---Of the 3 sites--which do you prefer? Why?

-- Posted by mu-grad on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 4:27 PM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
Good question. I'll change the poll question on the front page, too (it's long overdue anyway).

How do you fix the limited parking and traffic congestion with renovations to the old schools?

-- Posted by RuralMarshall on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 3:55 PM

why ***** about it marshall school is going to do what they want to do you can not stop it to me i say its going to come out of you all's pockets one way or another good luck on it

-- Posted by blizz on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 2:57 PM

Maybe all the "big spenders" in town can find a way to make one less trip a year to Wal Mart to come up with the extra money to pay for a real necessity..like a school for kids.

-- Posted by Hombre on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 2:11 PM

Dr. Noah said that it would take $20mil to "completely" renovate the buildings. Everything from roof to windows, HVAC, flooring, walls. They do not need to be gutted, they need to be updated, enlarged and taken care of. The price estimate has been blown out of proportion so this will not be considered as a viable option. In response to the above comment about driving an old car...that's a rediculous comparision. The photo of the peeling paint is in a room that need to be scraped and vented.

-- Posted by windowview on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 11:38 AM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
Dr. Noah has also said the actual renovations could cost much less, depending on what projects are included and what projects are excluded. The engineers were asked to put together a *complete* list and estimate of everything needed to make the old schools "like new."

Gumby & missouriwoman3 -- I think it's pretty unfair to claim the district is letting things slide. I've been to the schools. They do a great job with wht they got. Things just wear out. But if you want them to keep the schools in perfect shape all the time, something got to give. Fire some teachers? Buy fewer computers and textbooks? What?

You take that picture on the front page right now. Peeling paint. It doesn't do any good to paint that room over & over. The steam from the boiler room just ruins the paint.

Fix the boilers? Sure. Costs money, eh? If they raise your taxes to spiff up the schools, you complain. If they don't keep the schools spiffed up enough to suit you, you complain.

-- Posted by taxedpayer on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 10:59 AM

what the f,

Superintendent Craig Noah has said (at each of the meetings) that if the community wants the old buildings to be renovated, it can be done. All you have to do is vote for that.

Let's look at the facts.

1. Renovating the old schools completely will cost 20.5 million dollars.

2. For that amount, you could get 20 more years out of those buildings. (That's an average of $1 million dollars a year.)

3. The new school will cost about $16 million.

4. Based on Marshall history, you could squeeze 100 years out of the new building. (That's an average of $160,000 dollars per year.)

As for whether the kids notice the new building, we would venture to say that the children whose classroom is a storage space under a stairway will probably notice that their educational setting has improved.

-- Posted by Citizens for the School Bond on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 9:26 AM

Gumby and Mowoman3, by your way of thinking we should all be driving 30 year old cars and just spending a bunch of money to fix them up. Of course were not, because there comes a point were the maintanence cost exceeds the cost of going new. Thats where were at with the schools, and they are alot older than 30 years old. The problem in the picture is from the boiler room, what can they do about that? They can scrap and repaint, but the cause of the problem doesn't go away, and it happens again. Redo the whole heating system in the school? I don't think that would be very cost effective.

-- Posted by mtownresident on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 9:23 AM

...because they want a shiney new school so it's best that the current one's look as bad as possible. All of the problems are fixable.

Personally I would have no problem spending money on what we have to renovate, expand etc. I know that we can't get the money to build a new school for k-8, but the answer is not 16 million for three grades now then maybe 20 million dollars to have to do it all over again for more schools down the road. Can anyone give me any specific reasons why we can't fix up what we have and go back to neighborhood K-6 schools? It's not like this town has really any bigger. Sure the amount of kids in school at any given time will fluctuate but that is normal.

The funny thing is that it's always about "the kids". I bet the kids don't give a tiddly wink. School is school. When I went from the middle school to the high school, the high school was barely 2 years old. It was a shiney school but to me it didn't matter if I was there in the "new" school or if it would have still been in the old middle school building. Like most kids I wanted to get in and get out. Period.

-- Posted by What the f...... on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 8:32 AM

I agree with Gumby why has noone taken care of this problem previously...I do think the kids need a new school but why should i vote yes for a 12-15 million dollar school when they obviously don't take care of the ones we have...what can make me possibly believe they would treat a new school any better???

-- Posted by missouriwoman3 on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 7:57 AM

I would like to know why public buildings, schools, courthouses, etc. which have boards and administrators, allow these buildings to become run down to start with. Why is there never any preventative maintenance? Why aren't these problems addressed when they first become apparent? Does no one ever check the buildings? Does no one ever go in these rooms and see the damage starting?

It seems it would be much cheaper for the tax payers to keep the building maintained, rather than wait until it's falling in?? Just my Opinion!

-- Posted by Gumby on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 4:31 AM

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