Building tours begin for committee

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Libraries, boiler rooms, offices and classrooms, the Hays USD 489 facilities needs committee, Superintendent Will Roth and Deputy Superintendent Richard Cain toured them all Tuesday morning.

The group spent approximately an hour each at O'Loughlin, Lincoln and Washington elementary schools and Hays High School.

The rest of the district's buildings are on the Thursday morning tour.

Francis Hammerschmidt, maintenance supervisor, led the tour, and building administrators, teachers and site council members joined the group at each building.

Some issues such as roofs and security were common to all buildings.

"The main thing we have throughout the district is all the lighting," Hammerschmidt said.

All of the schools need at least some lighting updated.

O'Loughlin Principal Nancy Harman detailed the procedure for signing in and entering the building.

"There is no foolproof security," she said.

Classroom space, a larger cafeteria and multi-purpose room that could serve as a storm shelter topped the list of needs at O'Loughlin.

Lincoln has three floors, with classrooms on the first and second floors, and a cafeteria in the basement that serves as a storm shelter.

The school doesn't have the space needs some of the others in the district do.

"Of course, we're not handicapped accessible, so that is one of the issues," Principal Elaine Rohleder said.

There is no adequate fresh air to classrooms, Hammerschmidt said.

Work is ongoing during the summer -- approximately two classrooms each summer -- to lower the ceilings and update the lighting.

The Washington school cafeteria -- also too small -- is in the basement, so that school isn't handicapped accessible.

Every Washington classroom is occupied, and a former shower room has been converted to a computer lab.

Students come from across the city, but there are more than 150 living units within a block of the school, Principal Allen Park said.

"We are 90 percent free and reduced (lunches)," he said.

Washington site council member Terry Manell said he's concerned "that some of the plans are looking at putting all of the grade school kids in two grade schools. I have a real problem with that. As far as I'm concerned, getting an education in grade school means more than arithmetic and that kind of thing. They need to learn social skills and interact with kids of different age groups."

Large schools won't allow interaction between grades, he said.

"I, for one, would vote for a $100 million bond issue tomorrow that opened two new grade schools. I think we already have two that are already too big."

Hays High has had approximately 300 more students than currently enrolled, "but during that time, it was crowded," Assistant Principal Marty Straub said.

The school's heating, ventilation and air conditioning is inefficient and a main issue, Hammerschmidt said.

The cafeteria space is adequate, but the school lacks a commons area and space in and around the gym, Straub said.

After the building tour, the committee spent some time discussing the athletic fields at the school.

"We do use all these fields," said Clint Albers, Hays High assistant principal and athletic director. "This fall, for example, we had a freshman/JV football game going on there, we had a varsity soccer game going on here, and we had our varsity football practicing. So all these fields are in use on the same day quite frequently. We also hosted a cross country meet that day, (with people) running around all those games and practices."