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Panel looks to existing facilities

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The Hays USD 489 facilities needs committee met Friday morning and hammered out a consensus on moving forward.

The committee is gathering information to form a recommendation for immediate and long-term strategies addressing the school district's facility needs.

Consensus of the committee was the focus currently would be on needs and improvements of existing facilities rather than looking at a new structure.

Committee member Aaron White said one part of the process should be considering if current facilities would be suitable for the long-term.

"I still think these buildings could be serviceable 20 years down the road. The space may need to be adjusted," he said.

The special education program is growing, and should be considered in planning, said Josh Waddell.

The district tries to keep special education students in classes in their own school building, but special education classroom needs can be different, said Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Mark Hauptman.

Though they often use what's available, it "isn't a good model," he said.

A larger room with two or three smaller rooms for individual instruction adjacent would be better suited to the needs.

"None of our buildings were built after special ed laws even came into focus in 1976," Hauptman said.

After coming to a consensus, the committee agreed to ask each building principal to prepare a list of immediate needs and immediate and future wants for their building.

The needs data will be another information component for the committee to move toward making recommendations to the board.

The lists should include input from building stakeholder groups such as teachers and staff, home-and-school organizations and site councils, and identify which groups contributed to the list.

Central administrators will make a list for Rockwell Administration Building. Roth will compile a list of educational needs, Hauptman one for special education and Francis Hammerschmidt, maintenance supervisor, for general facilities maintenance.

After receiving instructions about the process, the list-makers will have 30 days to return a prioritized list for the committee to consider.

Brian Weimer said he's talked to a Hays Middle School teacher.

"These people are hungry to tell us what they need, not wants, needs," he said. "I think that's the first step, let us gather as much information as we can."