School district contemplates new building
Despite continuing budget problems because of enrollment decreases, the Tonganoxie school superintendent believes the district should improve its facilities and programs.
One way to achieve that goal is for the district to provide its own special education programs, rather than pay a cooperative about $430,000 a year. But the move would require additional classrooms.
Erickson said the district's projections indicate the district would save $50,000 to $70,000 by operating its own special education program.
"The problem is that we don't have a physical location where we could put special education," he said.
Currently, the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative provides services to Tonganoxie students. About 20 students travel to and from Leavenworth daily, costing the district about $80,000 annually.
Erickson also would like to strengthen the district's vocational education offerings.
Erickson told school board members Monday night that the district might want to call on volunteers in the community much as it did for work at its sports complex to construct a new building for vocational education near the art annex. No cost estimate was presented.
Erickson said he plans to meet next semester with a committee of citizens who worked on the athletic facility to discuss whether the district should proceed.
Currently, when vocational education students are juniors and seniors, they have the option of taking classes at technical schools in Atchison or Kansas City, Kan.
"It would be beneficial for our kids to stay here, rather than having to travel down the road to get the courses they need," Erickson said.
But he said, because of cramped quarters, there is little or no room for growth.
"Right now my hope is that we can start by improving our facilities for our present programs," Erickson said.
The new building would free up space that could be used for special education services if the district were to leave the cooperative. Moreover, it would provide classroom space for traveling teachers teachers in the district, who, because of a lack of space, have no classroom of their own and travel from room to room to teach.
While board members didn't offer opposition to Erickson's ideas, Ron Moore later said it would be wise to continue to keep a close watch on expenditures.
"If we don't get some more funding in about two years, we're going to eat up all the local option budget," Moore said. "And then there would be no place to go and we'll be a the mercy of the Legislature."
Board president Bob DeHoff agreed.
"We'd be like Shawnee Mission," DeHoff said. "They have two options cut buildings or cut programs. They can cut buildings, we can't, we can only cut programs."
School board members Monday night:
Tabled a decision on purchase of a used nine-passenger van. Erickson had located a used van with 97,000 miles on it that could be purchased for about $9,400. The board members advised Erickson to continue looking for another vehicle.
Approved a $10 gift certificate, good at Tonganoxie businesses, for 225 employee Christmas gifts.
Approved the appointment of Clint Newton as the assistant girls basketball coach at THS. Newton will begin work next semester.
Accepted the retirement of Kathy Pine, elementary school secretary, effective at the end of the 2000-2001 school year.
Approved the appointment of Mariah Neff and Charla Jerome as co-sponsors of the TJHS student council.
Approved the appointment of David Mitchell as assistant forensics coach.