It was an interesting and pleasant discussion for a little over an hour Monday night in the High School Library about what the R-II School needs and how much patrons will be willing to spend.
A couple of school board members were in the audience but basically didn’t speak. Supt. Mark Koca pulled up a chair at the front of the group and talked in a fireside chat format.
By the end of the meeting, there were no conclusions, just a decision to have more public meetings after the Picnic.
One thing that came out of the meeting was the almost if not completely universal agreement that the school has to do something about handicapped accessibility in the High School. The chair lifts were added in the 1990s. The cost to replace them would be about $100,000. They are slow getting students to class up to 15 minutes late per period. There are also issues about general patron access.
The estimated cost to install and elevator shaft at the north end of the High School with an elevator in it is half a million dollars.
The school needs new gym space.
There is a safety concern with 70-90 kids in the gym – High School seniors in the same space with Junior High students.
The school is not allowed to use the Middle School gym (1939 vintage) for games, just for practice. The school hosts Middle School games in the Community Center. Hosting games at school is a much safer setting.
The current High School gym is almost 50 years old.
The vocal music room is inadequate. Students are stacked to the ceiling on risers.
The stage for performances is 1939 vintage with terrible acoustics.
Science labs have not been updated since the 1970s.
Two school nurses are serving 1,100 kids out of one office.
Cafeteria issues – grades K-3 eat in the Elementary cafeteria. The High School students are fed out of the concession stand and are told to “find” some place to eat.
The board has run a bond issue four times. About 50% of the voters approved. It takes a 4/7 majority. Each time there has been a 130 vote margin. There are 8,000 registered voters in the district. Only about 1,600 vote in each election. The superintendent said, “There are a bunch of unregistered voters.”
If a bond issue does not pass, there will probably be a 14-17¢ tax levy rollback.
The bottom line, “The board would like some direction.” So it will schedule more public meetings after the Picnic.