School committee looks at district facility needs
It's just a plan in the beginning stages. But it's still a plan.
Last Wednesday night, Tonganoxie school administrators spoke at the district's Capital Improvements Committee meeting, suggesting how the school district could be divided.
Currently, said Tammie George, assistant principal of the elementary school, TES is one of only eight Kansas elementary schools that have more than 700 students.
"Not very many districts have large elementaries," George said. "It's obvious to me that there's a reason for that. Most districts would prefer to have a kind of a neighborhood-school situation. You can get to a certain point where you can't individually name students anymore."
Construction of a new school would make sense, so far as alleviating school crowding, as well as in grouping students together with regard to common curriculum, George said.
Because grades K-3 focus on basic skills such as reading, math, community studies and science, they should be housed in one school, George said.
And, she added, curriculum-wise, it would make sense to have students in grades four through eight in another school. That school could be built on the 80 acres the district owns at the south end of town.
One possibility for the district, George said, would be to use the current elementary school for grades K-three; and to build a new middle school with separate wings for grades four and five, and six through eight. Then, instead of having a junior high school, the district would go to a four-year high school, utilizing the present junior high and high school campus.
Steve Woolf, junior high principal, said he thought the ninth graders would make a smooth transition from junior high to high school.
"They're doing well now, and they'd do well at the high school," Woolf said.
Tonganoxie High School principal Mike Bogart said that until the present junior high was built 17 years ago, Tonganoxie had a four-year high school. He said a move from a junior high/high school setting to a four-year high school would have positive aspects in that it would combine classes, activities and extracurricular activities.
Bogart said the cost of building a new high school, which would require sports facilities, would be more than building a middle school.
Gene Becker, a member of the facilities committee, said he thought this might be what the district needs.
"I think the community has spoken that this is what they want," Becker said. "They want a new middle school concept on the 80 acres and to keep the high school here so we don't have to spend the big money to build a new high school."