Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Our view: Express your opinion about school buildings

September 17, 2003

It's time to wake up.

For months and months, school officials and a handful of interested patrons have reviewed and discussed the future of buildings in the Tonganoxie school district.

And for months and months, school officials have begged the public to take an interest in whether to build new schools in Tonganoxie. So far, their pleas largely have landed on deaf ears.

Last week, the school board took a giant step in the process.

Board members asked the architectural firm the district has hired to fine-tune so-called Option 5.

Generally speaking, that option calls for construction of a new middle school on land southeast of Washington and Pleasant, a well as renovations at the elementary, junior high and high schools.

Early estimates placed the cost of Option 5 at nearly $14.5 million. But that number will change, as architects work on obtaining better construction estimates -- and as the district determines exactly what renovations will be made to existing buildings and what amenities to include in a new middle school.

In addition to changes in bricks and mortar in the district, Option 5 also calls for significant changes in where some students go for their education.

The existing elementary school -- where students in kindergarten through sixth grade currently attend -- would be home to kindergartners through fourth-graders.

Fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders would attend the new middle school.

And freshmen and sophomores would attend most classes in the existing junior high school building, while juniors and seniors would attend at the high school.

Whether school district patrons have students in schools or whether they simply are taxpayers, it's important for patrons to take an interest in what the school board is proposing. Obviously, many issues are on the table, including raising taxes and whether moving children to different schools makes sense.

The school district wants to hear from patrons. Officials no longer can afford to operate in a near-vacuum.

While the work of the people who have participated on the Capital Improvements Committee has been vital and appreciated, it's important for all patrons to express their opinions.

And the time to speak up is now.

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