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Committee sees structure faults of Rockwell building

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The Rockwell Administration Center building, including Westside School, was the last stop on the Hays USD 489 facilities needs committee's tour list. The committee met Tuesday morning to tour the building.

The structure's challenges include single-pane windows, a leaky roof and steam heat throughout.

"If the boiler's not on, there's no heat," said Francis Hammerschmidt, maintenance supervisor.

The group started in 12th Street Auditorium on the east end of the building.

"The auditorium has not had anything changed except for the seating," Hammerschmidt said.

Seats on the lower level were replaced with some from Fox Theater, he said.

Most performances including the Hays High School musical, plays and elementary school programs take place in the auditorium. Only events too large for the facility are at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center at Fort Hays State University, Superintendent Will Roth said.

The main section of the building has offices for the school district's central administrative staff, nutrition services and other programs such as Youth Friends.

The Learning Center, a program for those who dropped out of high school before graduating or need credit retrieval, is on the lower level.

"This facility (The Learning Center) uses other rooms around, so it is not adequate in terms of the space requirements of the program," said Mark Hauptman, assistant superintendent for special services. "As (with) many things we have, we get by."

Formerly Hays High School, the multi-story building also has a gym that's now leased to Hays Recreation Commission.

"We do have an ADA issue in this building. ... We don't have an elevator," Hammerschmidt said.

Westside Alternative School is located on the west end of the administration building.

There are 25 students in grades K-12 in the school, said Mark Dinkel, program coordinator.

The school serves students in the West Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative, which includes USD 489, La Crosse, Victoria and Ellis.

There are three classrooms -- elementary, middle and high school. That number is sufficient, but "the layout is not. We'd like to have more space," Dinkel said.

To the north of the school is the maintenance office and shop area, Helping Hands kitchen and Head Start offices.

"(It's) full of asbestos," Hammerschmidt said pointing to asbestos covered pipes in the ceiling of a shop area. "In this building, nothing has been done. We just maintain it. The worst two things in this building is probably asbestos and the roof."

The committee discussed getting input from school district staff, home-and-school associations and site councils, but first will "take a meeting and get ourselves organized," said Tom Drees, committee member.

The next meeting is Jan. 18.