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Cafeagymatorium word of day

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Multi-use rooms and space needs were the theme of the facilities needs committee's tour of Hays USD 489 buildings Thursday.

The group of approximately 15 toured Roosevelt and Wilson elementary schools, Hays Middle School and the Early Childhood Connections center at Munjor.

Both Roosevelt and Wilson have issues with their cafeagymatorium -- one room used as a cafeteria, gym and auditorium.

"We have to shut down our PE classes for a couple of hours in the middle of the day because we're using it for a cafeteria," Superintendent Will Roth said of the Roosevelt space.

"We have got five minutes on Thursdays and Fridays to set up that whole room to get ready for 350 kids to eat because the PE teacher has to be in there," said Lois Dreher, Roosevelt head cook.

Besides Roosevelt students, the cooks prepare meals for O'Loughlin and Washington schools, and the kitchen, especially the small baking area, is a challenge.

With approximately 375 students, Wilson also has issues with its cafeagymatorium.

"This is one of my highest concern areas for many reasons," Principal Tom Meagher said of the room. "As a cafeteria, we are packed in here as far as assemblies and things."

Serving carts are stored on the stage, and a former locker room area off the stage is used for more storage.

Roosevelt wasn't part of the 1994 bond issue improvements, said Francis Hammerschmidt, maintenance supervisor.

"In the old part of the building, nothing was ever upgraded. Nothing was ever touched back then because they had air conditioning," Hammerschmidt said.

Wilson has a new roof, but the windows need replacing, Hammerschmidt said.

The office area provides a front door view, but it's crowded, Meagher said.

"Please do not take us to a mega school," one of the Wilson teachers said as members of the committee stopped to look in classrooms.

She described a mega school as a large elementary school, or having just one grade in each building.

She said schools develop a family atmosphere, and teachers cross grade levels to work together when several grades are in one building.

When asked who the teacher was, Deputy Superintendent Richard Cain said he didn't know and wasn't going to ask.

"All that's inappropriate. That's not what this group is here for," he said.

Hays Middle School enrollment went from 460 students last year to 610 this year, Principal Craig Pallister said.

A metal building with six classrooms and two bathrooms was completed in August, and preliminary work for eight additional classrooms on the east side of the building is expected to begin in April.

Depite that, there are some space issues.

Administrators' offices sometimes are used for conferences and making up homework, and school records are kept in the science room closet.

"This is a reading room; this is a math room; this is a science room, but two hours a day they teach Spanish in these two rooms, (and) two hours a day they teach music," Principal Craig Pallister said.

The gym sometimes holds four classes at once, and the cafeteria also is a music room.

"We use this as a music room three hours a day -- vocal, band, orchestra uses this," Pallister said.

"They lose instruction time setting up every single day. It's not ideal, but it works," Assistant Principal Shanna Dinkel said.

The Early Childhood Connections building in Munjor has sufficient student space but lacks storage.

The program, supported through state and federal grants, serves infants through age 3 in two classrooms of eight children.