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Facilities committee in process of gathering information

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The Hays USD 489 facilities needs committee met Tuesday morning.

Bryce Young and Patrick Lowry were named co-chairmen at the committee's first meeting last month.

The committee is gathering information about the school district, city and county to form a recommendation for immediate and long-term strategies addressing the school district's facility needs, according to the November meeting minutes.

The problem to be solved is space issues, said Greg Schwartz, a committee member who also serves on the board of education.

Schwartz said the question is whether to continue "putting a Band-Aid on the problems" or addressing long-term solutions.

"We already have an issue with space," Deputy Superintendent Richard Cain said.

Cain gave a brief presentation on the district's budget and overall financial picture.

Committee members also had asked for a comparison of USD 489 to other Class 5A and Western Athletic Conference schools and the largest 4A districts. The Hays district ranks high in assessment scores, in the middle in enrollment and general fund dollars, and near the bottom in bond and interest paid, Cain said.

When asked what the comparison shows, Cain said the district is "highly efficient."

Besides district data, the committee also has received information on economic development, census figures and Kansas Department of Education bond projects and fund summary.

Superintendent Will Roth gave a presentation on building needs.

Roth didn't identify any issues at Hays High, but said the middle school cafeteria is small, and another music room is needed. Most of the space issues are in the elementary schools.

"Wilson is a real problem. We're going to need another fifth grade (classroom) next year, but (there's) no place to put it."

Kindergarten classes have increased from 200 students a few years ago to 270.

"Those students will work their way through the system," he said.

Committee member Tammy Wellbrock said a number of district staff and faculty members have asked if they will have a chance for input.

The committee will ask for input from the public as the process continues, Young said.

There is a facilities needs committee link on the district website, www.hays489.k12.ks.us. It includes the members, their email addresses and meeting minutes.

The next meeting will be tours of the district buildings next week.