TES enrollment statistics trigger space concerns, administrators say
On a night when the Tonganoxie School Board approved a two-mill increase budget, administrators spoke of what they perceived as a concern far beyond the upcoming school year.
Tonganoxie Elementary School enrollment for this year is projected at 695 students, TES principal Tammie George told the board at Monday’s meeting. In May, TES finished the 2008-09 school year with 675 students.
With that continued growth, George said the district could be looking at adding more teachers. But the school is about tapped out for space by her estimations.
“We could need four new staff and we don’t have four classrooms,” George said.
She stressed that “possibly” one room could be created in the Volunteer Center, but no space is available beyond that.
The discussion comes nearly five years after patrons approved a $25.4 million bond issue for a new middle school and renovations to the elementary and high schools.
Building the middle school on Washington Street created breathing room at TES, as the former K-6 building became a K-4 building. The middle school has fifth- through eighth-grade classes. Weeks before patrons approved the bond issue in November 2004, the elementary school’s official enrollment, which is sent to the state annually, was 820 that year for K-6.
George also noted the ideal class size is below 20 for each teacher. Of 32 TES teachers, only one has a class size smaller than 20. That class has 19. The largest classroom is 26.
Superintendent Kyle Hayden said the district could evaluate a short-term plan to “fill a gap before proceeding with construction for a new facility.” That included discussion about more mobile units.
“We don’t have anywhere to go without looking at taking away playground space,” Hayden said.
To open discussion about how to handle space limitations, Hayden suggested a work session with Jerry McCall, whom the district hired to evaluate its master facility planning. McCall has been visiting with city, county and school officials and evaluating Tonganoxie’s demographics. The board is planning for a September work session.
Board member Mildred McMillon said the high number of students also becomes a concern when it comes to lunchtime.
“It’s not just the size of the building … to prepare all these meals for all of these students,” she said.
Fellow board member Diane Truesdell said mobile units at the middle should could also be considered.
“There definitely would be more room there,” Truesdell said. “It’s something to think about.”
Hayden said the district was “behind the 8-ball” with the space crunch, but also pointed out a silver lining.
“On the positive note, that’s more money,” Hayden said about state aid for each student. “More enrollment equals more money.”
The school board discussed Education Foundation proposed benefits for contributors, but one proposal wasn’t well-received by the superintendent or school board.
The Education Foundation helps provide funding for existing and future college scholarships, as well as mini-grants for classroom instruction and district-wide projects for student enrichment.
Proposed benefits range from a certificate and name published in the foundation’s newsletter for $25 to several perks for a $1 million club, including a life insurance policy, high interest electronic checking account at Community National Bank or First State Bank and Trust and a building named in a donor’s honor.
Other parts of buildings, such as classrooms, hallways and the like are proposed to be named in a donor’s honor depending on donation levels.
Hayden said he wasn’t in favor of such a benefit.
“We recognize people on behalf of their achievements and not how thick their pocket books are,” Hayden said.
At the same time, he said those who can donate substantial amounts also were high-achievers and that if buildings or other areas were to be named after someone, it would be handled on a case-by-case basis.
“And I don’t necessarily think that is a hindrance for contributors if they’re contributing for the right reasons,” he said.
Board members were in agreement, as Kay Smith and Leana Leslie recalled someone approaching the board about donating money for a marquee with the stipulation that they have name recognition of their business on the sign. The board declined the offer, Smith said.
Proposed recognition plaques and possible halls of fame for donors, meanwhile, were acceptable to the board.
McMillon said there are many people who have made sizable contributions to the district in ways not monetary and agreed with not naming buildings or parts of buildings after donors — for the most part.
“If somebody wanted to give $45 billion to benefit the kids, sure then we’d name the whole thing after them,” McMillon said with a smile.
The board tabled action on the donor benefits proposal, but approved Ben Robbins as a foundation board member.
Executive session and hirings
The board met for a total of 45 minutes in executive session to discuss personnel. Pat Hull met with the board during that time, as did Hayden.
Later in the meeting, the board approved consent agenda items, which included the supplemental contract for David Walker as technology support.
Classified contracts also were approved for these transportation paraprofessionals: Mary Barncord, Ed Kesinger, Lizzie McAlexander and James Sanders.
Energy solutions project
Fine-tuning for the district’s energy solutions project will be taking place as students return to classes, Keven Ward with Trane told the board.
He said the fine-tuning can’t take place until students are back in class and buildings are in full use.
Discrepancy in bills
When reviewing bills, McMillon questioned repeat payments in which the same payment appeared twice. Hayden said the check number was the same on both recordings, so there would not be an issue of double payment. The board approved the bills with the stipulation that the repeat payments in the records would be omitted.
Policy regarding field trips will be amended for the September meeting.
Hayden told the board the current policy was “OK, but very standard.”
“It doesn’t address field trips and the educational nature of each field trip,” Hayden said. “It doesn’t go through the approval process or what the approval process should be.”
The policy will be discussed further at the next meeting.