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MPS BOE propose uses for potentially vacated buildings

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Senior Caitlin Crawford (right) of the Speech and Debate Team at Marshall High School speaks to the board and audience Tuesday evening, Feb. 25.
(Jesse Brown/Democrat-News)
Marshall Public School Board of Education met for its monthly meeting Tuesday evening, Feb. 25, to discuss what to do with the vacated elementary buildings should the levy increase pass in April.

Superintendent Ryan Huff gave some suggestions for Eastwood, Southeast and Benton elementary schools to the board.

"Obviously, when the tax levy passes, we'll have three buildings that we will need to either find use for or do something else with (it)," Huff said. "Been in conversations with Marshall Public Library as a possibility as looking at Eastwood Elementary School, then take that over as the new public library as an option."

Huff reported he has been in conversation with St. Peter Catholic School regarding Benton Elementary and he said the school has expressed interest. He also recommended demolishing Southeast Elementary because the building is in dire need of repairs and it would be too expensive to hold onto.

Melissa Jones presented to the board about Common Core State Standards and urged the board to sign the resolution to oppose the standards.

"I'm here tonight because I am a concerned citizen, former public school educator, and most importantly, a mother of three and I want answers about Common Core," Jones said.

Jones said the Common Core standards are an "unconstitutional infringement" upon Missouri educational law and they do not address the needs of special education or the gifted as "they are truly a 'one size fits all' education."

"As a school board, you are the gatekeeper and the voice for our children. As parents and taxpayers, we expect you to uphold the constitutional rights and laws of our state," Jones said. "... Education is not a playground for experimentation or indoctrination by those who see our children as human capital and education as an emerging market of endless new products. This is the time for those who can make a difference to stand up as responsible adults and not be sheep."

Huff announced in his superintendent's report a Common Core meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, March 10, in the Little Theater at Marshall High School.

Monte Holder, director of technology, presented to the board the annual technology program review. Implementation of technology into the curriculum, providing personnel for ongoing technology training and evaluating the total cost of maintaining and upgrading the network were only a few of the areas reviewed. The board approved the program review.

Lori Peel, instructor of the GATE program, which stands for the Gifted and Talented Expand, presented to the board the program review. With a slideshow presentation, Peel showed the board the various activities the GATE students have participated in and announced they will be hosting the state GATE competition again this year. The board approved the program review.

The board approved appointing board member Kathy Green to serve on the Outstanding Teacher Selection Committee, which will select the Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

The board also revised the 2013-2014 school year to make up the snow days when the district canceled school. The make-up days are Friday, March 14, with an early 12:30 p.m. dismissal; Monday, April 21, and Tuesday, April 22; Wednesday, May 21, Thursday, May 22, Friday, May 23; and Tuesday and Wednesday, May 27, and May 28, with early 12:30 p.m. dismissals.

The board also approved the school calendar for the 2014-2015 school year. First day of classes will be Wednesday, Aug. 20, and last day of classes will be Wednesday, May 20.

Julie Stevenson, director of curriculum, presented the dates for summer school to the board. Preschool through eighth grade will be from June 4 to June 27 and ninth grade to 12th grade will be from June 2 to June 27.

The board then adjourned to executive session where they accepted the resignations of Laura Clemons, Geralyn Ehrhardt, Kate Farris, Tony George, Matt Green, Julie Hoffelmeyer, Justin Jolliff and Kim McKenzie, as they will all retire at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The board approved the employment of LaTausha Lembke, Brandy Miller, Thomas Poindexter, Ryan Soltvedt and Marvin Tressler to fill those roles. The board also approved increasing the hours of Sarah Guthrey.

The next scheduled board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25.

Contact Jesse Brown at jbrown@marshallnews.com

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trinitysword has a good point about the use of old school buildings for other purposes.

Adaptive reuse (www.marshallnews.com/blogs/crump/entry/31070) can work, of course. Buildings that no longer serve their original purposes can be adapted to new purposes. School buildings can become libraries, residences, offices, community centers, markets, etc.

That's a great way to keep the architectural character of the community alive and viable.

However, it's true that adaptive reuse does not magically remove the sometimes daunting challenges of renovating and maintaining an old building, and those challenges have to be taken into account when considering a repurposing project.

Personally, I think Eastwood and Benton schools are too important to the heritage of Marshall to be lost. If there is any way to save those buildings, DO! And it sounds like the school district is doing what it can to keep the doors open for preservation of those historic structures.

-- Posted by ewcrump on Mon, Mar 3, 2014, at 2:56 PM

I would think that Eastwood School would be a fine place for the Library.

They could utilize the spaces that are useable, and it would only take some drywall and insulation to wall off the unused spaces.

Plus, there should be plenty of spaces for storage that just need to be dry, so even some of the less desirable space could be used in that manner.

As far as using computers and such, I don't believe that wiring and cables are as necessary now as they were when computers had to be hard wired into phone lines.

Wireless routing and satellites are only going to get better and computers will get smaller and lighter.

tazman...As far as the city council keeping jobs out of Marshall; I need to ask if you've ever even been to a council meeting.

The members certainly do not pass judgement on which businesses come to town and which don't. They do make sure that the businesses conform to present state and local laws.

Marshall does not have the workforce to support a large auto type manufacturer, or something on that scale. We also do not have a lot of easy transportation except for semis, and trains for the agricultural shipping. I do believe everyone wants Marshall to be as prosperous as possible and to meet its potential.

There aren't many towns our size that are more than 50 miles from a large metropolitan area that are doing much better. Unfortunately, businesses go where they can get the work force; that's part of the problem with the shoe and clothing industries going outside of the country. It is why so many things are 'made in Japan or China'. Is it ideal? No. Can we change it? Perhaps.

That's why there are Enterprise zones and tax abatement programs in many small communities, including Marshall.

I urge everyone to go to at least one city council or county commisioner meeting and ask their pertinent questions.

-- Posted by Interested Too on Mon, Mar 3, 2014, at 2:27 PM

As far as a back up plan goes.....Renovating the old buildings is not an option. If the buildings were gutted and brought back to their pristine, new condition they would still be inadequate for our needs. The classrooms are too small, there are not enough classrooms. The gymnasiums are inadequate, the library spaces are too small, there is not any space for technology, etc. The lots that the buildings sit on are too small for any additions to the facilities. Again, these buildings were built in the 1920's. They were designed for education in the early 20th century, not the 21st century. Let's take the example of the Ford Model T. If you had an old Model T and wanted to bring it back to it's pristine condition you could do that. However, you wouldn't drive it on I-70 at 70 mph. It is not designed for that. Our buildings are not designed for 21st Century Learning. Let's take another example, think about the kind of barns that were built in the 1920's. The barns had hay lofts to store small square bales, or piles of hay lifted by a hay fork. The bottom part of the barn was reserved for grain storage and animal housing. Today those barns are being torn down and replaced with machine sheds that can house very large farm equipment that are full of technological advances and computer technology. Advances were made in farming over the past 90 years. The same is true in education. Advances have been made and we do not do things the same way that we did 90 years ago. To continue to utilize these old buildings is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. This issue will be put back on the ballot if it does not pass in April. The consequences of not are too great, both financially and educationally.

-- Posted by Ryan Huff, Superintendent on Mon, Mar 3, 2014, at 9:46 AM

Let me be clear, I hate taxes as much as anyone. However, our current 50 to 70 year old schools are not only an embarrassment to the community but unsafe for our children and the teachers in the school district. Fact: Marshall has one of the lowest school tax levies in the state. If we do not pass the levy now, does anyone really think it will get cheaper 5 years from now? I just don't understand that in most small to mid sized towns, the school is a sense of pride and the center of the community. Again, I hate taxes but I hope people will see that the extra few dollars per month in taxes is worth it for our children and community. Please vote yes.

-- Posted by d3 on Sun, Mar 2, 2014, at 10:09 AM

Regarding the movement of Early Child Development to Northeast, does the business case indicate that the cost to relocate the students and operation would result in savings to the District? Though there would not be lease payments for the state building, there are still lots of maintenance issues with Northeast that need to be addressed. When the public did school walk-thrus of the elementary buildings as part of the last tax levy preparation, Northeast, though the newest school building, hand a fist-full of costly problems. Retaining it in use continues a cost stream that was going to be eliminated as part of the sales pitch to get the single large new building passed. A quick review of the comparative staff and student population sizes between the Early Child Development Center and Northeast would tend to indicate that it is about half the staff and student size than what is housed at Northeast now...meaning lots of space to maintain and heat/cool that is not needed? Plus remedying all those problems. Why was the proposed new designed elementary complex not inclusive of an Early Childhood facility as part of the new school building complex?

Thank you for the detail about the Library's interest with Eastwood. I guess we will have to see what Whickie and the Library Board is thinking. It is an old building with lots of problems and certainly would require a large budget to convert the space to efficient library use. In addition there would still be plentiful unused space, which would need to be maintained, as I cannot imagine that the library could reasonably need the entire building to continue its current mission within its budget. I do not recall seeing any reports from Library Board meeting minutes regarding a need to find new digs for the facility.

-- Posted by trinitysword on Fri, Feb 28, 2014, at 10:37 PM

Tazman, Your "once quaint community" is educating over 400 students in trailers due to overcrowding of the current facilities. I am interested in hearing what your ideas are for a "cheaper plan" to solve this issue.

-- Posted by CJK on Fri, Feb 28, 2014, at 8:41 PM

Mr huff, what is the plan if the bond fails again? Are we simply going to keep trying until it eventually passes, or is there any talk of a much smaller future bond proposal to refurbish what we have, or down size the dreams of the school board? I believe this is a very important question our community needs the answers to before the election. As every good leader has a contingency plan your knowledge on the matter is much appreciated.

-- Posted by sw3177 on Fri, Feb 28, 2014, at 8:36 PM

43M Tax levy. They are expecting this from the taxpayers of a already declining community. This so called City Council doesn't allow any type of business in town that might increase the Revenue and interest in this community. I hope this tax levy is shot down in flames once again.They are trying to shove it down our throats by already purchasing ground for there plan, and i believe they could come up with a lot cheaper plan than they already have for this already struggling community. Ask ConAgra for some help with it.......the City and County have already let them overtake our once quaint community.

-- Posted by tazman on Fri, Feb 28, 2014, at 4:30 PM

Marshall Public Schools was approached by the Marshall Public Library to look at the possibility of utilizing Eastwood Elementary as a new location for the public library. Board members of the Marshall Public Library have toured the Eastwood facility to see if the facility would meet their needs. The fourth elementary building that was not mentioned in the article is Northwest Elementary building. Northwest is the district's newest elementary building. The district is going to keep the Northwest building to move the Early Childhood Center into and out of the Prarie View State School, which is owned by the State of Missouri. The district is currently leasing the space at Prarie View State School. Southeast School will be demolished if a suitable use can not be found for it. St. Peter's Catholic School has expressed interest in Benton Elementary. With it's close proximity to their facility, it would be a good fit for their specific needs.

-- Posted by Ryan Huff, Superintendent on Fri, Feb 28, 2014, at 3:56 PM

Many are afraid to speak up. The threats have already been put out there.

-- Posted by RuralresidentMO on Fri, Feb 28, 2014, at 7:44 AM

I am not aware that the Marshall Public Library was in need for a new building, especially if the target is a very old building that needs a bunch of work and is too expensive to continue in service (isn't that one of the legs of the MPS logic for needing the $43M levy?) I can hardly wait to see the funding request for renovating an old elementary school building and converting it to useable space that would be adequate to serve the functions of a library. This idea only attempts to shift a bill that the MPS does not want to pay, to another tax-payer based funding stream, though the taxpayer pocket is the same one. Has the need for a new library been discussed at a city council meeting or by the library board? Also not mentioned by the superintendent is the future of the 4th elementary school; there is certainly no need for it to be retained if the centralized combined elementary school plan passes. The object should be to move the old schools to non-government uses (e.g. sell them) or demolish 'the unsafe buildings.' It is somewhat disingenuous for MPS to build their case justifying a huge tax levy to replace 4 old schools for a big new one, but then develop schemes as to why some old buildings should still be around. If there is still a valid educational need that exists for the space then why is that not being included in the new build design? Old buildings will still cost education $$$s to be maintained, something we should not be investing in if the tax levy is passed.

-- Posted by trinitysword on Thu, Feb 27, 2014, at 11:22 AM

I'm surprised there are not more posts.

-- Posted by Kelli Hartline on Thu, Feb 27, 2014, at 10:22 AM

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