Archive for Wednesday, February 12, 2003

School board hears from district architect

February 12, 2003

Part of the problem in calculating the optimum number of students in each Tonganoxie school is defining what a classroom is.

For instance, Tonganoxie High School has 10 or 12 classrooms outside of the school building, one of which is now the art classroom, a metal building used as a classroom since the school was built in the mid-1960s.

"Maybe some of it's a matter of perspective," said school board member Rick Lamb. "But some of those classrooms that I've seen here forever I think are more permanent. Even though it's not included as a building, it's part of our high school."

Jim French, architect with DLR Group, the Overland Park architectural firm hired by the school district to lead the district through planning and possible construction of a new school, met with board members Monday night. Since meeting with the board in January, French has gathered statistics to compare the number of classrooms and students.

At the high school, if only the school's 18 interior classrooms are counted, the building would have a functional capacity of 352, French said. His figures are based on an 85 percent efficiency usage, because during teacher planning periods, students are not in the classrooms. The high school's current enrollment is 386.

But tack on the additional 12 mobile units and exterior buildings and the school's capacity increases -- at least on paper.

Board member Darlyn Hansen calculated that if 10 of the exterior classrooms were counted, the school's capacity would increase to about 547 students.

But Ron Moore noted that the class sizes in the exterior classrooms, which include vocational agriculture, mechanics and building, might be about half the size in student count, meaning that some exterior classrooms might more accurately be counted as half-classrooms.

At Tonganoxie Elementary School, there are currently 774 students. French made his calculations based on the 707 enrollment he had thought was current. The school has 26 classrooms.

"If you use 22 students as average class size, that creates a functional capacity of 572 students," French said.

As at the high school, French did not include the modular classrooms in the classroom count. According to French's calculation and the updated 774 enrollment figure, that means the elementary school is about 200 more students over capacity -- if the school wants to retain lower student-teacher ratios.

French said the grade school, ranked last year as the fifth-largest elementary school in Kansas, was crowded.

"They're obviously doing a very good job in the elementary school educating your children on top of one another," French said.

The district's newest building is Tonganoxie Junior High School, which shows 21 classrooms. Keeping 23 students per classroom maximum at an 85 percent utilization of the classrooms, French said, means the functional capacity is 410 students. Currently the junior high's enrollment is 368.

"So, speaking in generalities, this building is pretty well used," French said. "It does have a little wiggle room for some additional kids."

Also Monday night, the board:

  • Voted to hire a financial, or bond, consultant to work with the board on a contingency basis during the planning of the school's facility improvement project. It was noted that the school hired a bond consultant to work with the district for construction of the junior high school. The bond consultant only will be paid if a bond issue passes.
  • Approve purchase of three buses at a cost of $54,588 each from Midwest Bus, and of a 19-passenger bus from Kansas Truck at $38,530.
  • With regret, approved retirement of Kenny Hardy, who was retiring because of health problems. Hardy, who was a graduate of Tonganoxie High School, has taught auto mechanics for 25 years. Superintendent Richard Erickson said Hardy is the school district's current nominee for Kansas Teacher of the Year.
  • Extended the contract of Superintendent Richard Erickson by one year, and offered one-year contracts to all principals and assistant principals.

In other matters, Rick Lamb congratulated the PTA for holding a successful carnival Saturday night. Leana Leslie, PTA member in charge of planning the event, said the organization made $5,000 profit from the event. More than 200 volunteers worked on the project, Leslie said.

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