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USD 320 considers uses for former church property


Consultant has several recommendations



May 29, 2014
The USD 320, Wamego, Board of Education will concentrate on using the former St. Bernard Catholic church property to house preschoolers and administrative staff.

At a special meeting held Wednesday, May 28, the board decided to follow the recommendation of Dr. Kent Stewart, an educational facilities consultant.

Superintendent Denise O'Dea reminded the board a recommendation from the facilities committee was to enlist the services of a consultant such as Stewart. Stewart has just finished working with the Abilene and Ulysses school districts.

"We got in contact with him and toured the facilities, buildings, etc.," O'Dea said.

Stewart told the board he had two conferences and two tours of the district.

"I took a second look at the church facilities in some detail and read the famous red notebook (facility committee's conclusions). The citizen's committee did a marvelous job."

He noted "there is a lot on the school board's plate for the moment with facilities" and told the board that his initial recommendations didn't talk about athletic facilities, maintenance buildings or new construction.

"I wrote mostly about the church facilities, and recommended an enrollment study," he said.

Stewart submitted a five point planning study to begin this summer.

The first point was an enrollment projection, and he suggested that KASB (Kansas Association of School Boards) be asked.

His second recommendation was to prioritize maintenance needs for Central, West and the Middle School. O'Dea added there were maintenance needs at the high school as well.

The final three recommendations all centered around use of the former church buildings. Stewart suggested the district look into the rectory as a new home for the district offices; the church office and education building for special education offices; and the parish hall building to house pre-school students.

He also told the board required work at the schools and church facilities will probably eventually require architectural services.

In order to continue with the planning, Stewart quoted a cost for his services not to exceed $4,165.

The board was appreciative of his services.

"I appreciate you being here," said Rob Adams, board member. "You were a calming factor that makes it seem a lot easier than it did last week."

"This gives us great direction," added Mark Bettencourt, board member. "With your obvious experience, you have enlightened us in different areas and solidified the things we need to do."

The board agreed on a 5-0 vote, with members Ken Hitch and Joe Steele absent, to use Stewart's services and contact KASB for the enrollment projection study.

Check out our June 4 print edition for the rest of the story.

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Tags: Belvue, Louisville, USD 320 - Wamego, Wamego

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