BOE wheels begin turning for modular classrooms

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

A need for more space in two elementary schools prompted a discussion of modular classrooms at the Hays USD 489 Board of Education work session Monday night.

Additional classroom space is needed at O'Loughlin and Wilson elementary schools, Superintendent Will Roth said.

Board President Darren Schumacher asked why.

"Next year, we'll be adding a section of fifth grade at Wilson and fourth grade at O'Loughlin," Roth said. "That will complete their three sections per grade. Right now, both have three sections per grade except for one grade. At Wilson, we have three fourth-grade teachers with about 22 students each, and only two fifth-grade teachers."

Roth and architect Terry Ault walked through the two school properties to get an idea where the modular classrooms could be located.

Each would include two separately heated and air-conditioned classrooms.

If the state continues to fund new facilities weighting, the modulars would hold regular classes, Roth said.

When enrollment was larger, "we had Schoenchen, Munjor, Catharine and Jefferson. We had several elementary schools at that time," Roth said.

"I thought we weren't doing modulars, so that becomes a big problem for me," Board Vice President Greg Schwartz said.

He asked about unused classroom space at Lincoln and Washington elementary schools.

"It doesn't make sense to spend $210,000 if there's space elsewhere," Schwartz said

Roth said there is some space at Lincoln and Washington, but it could be a challenge to move a classroom to another school.

"I would like to have the facilities needs committee weigh in on their recommendation before we do that," Schwartz said of purchasing modulars.

When asked for a time frame, Ault said companies recommend ordering modulars in early March.

"The later in spring you go, the more people (there are) in the process," Ault said. "You run the risk of not having delivery in the summer."

Roth said he wanted to get discussion about the space need started with the board, but would look at alternative scenarios to modulars.

In other discussion, Deputy Superintendent Richard Cain said installing sod at the Hays High School athletic fields has been put on hold.

K-State Extension experts recommend putting down fescue sod in the fall.

"This week, we'll start putting down a heavy seeding of rye (grass) and repeat it again in early March," Cain said.

The grass will be watered from the well, (but) "as soon as the baseball season is over, we'll stop watering on that field altogether. We should have plenty of water to get that fescue sod started in the fall."

The Bermuda sod for the other fields -- football, soccer and track -- shouldn't be laid until June. Cain said he would ask the board's approval in March to request bids to sod those fields.

Administrators also have been approached by a local company with a proposal to construct restrooms at the athletic fields. The restrooms would use a holding tank for water since there is no water or sewer lines, and installing them is costly.

The district rents portable restrooms during the seasons the fields are used.

The board gave the approval to investigate the costs of constructing the restrooms.