The format of the Hays USD 489 bond town hall meeting Tuesday night at Hays Middle School had a different format.

Volunteers Valerie Wente and Cody Fenwick led the presentation highlighting the safety, security and accessibility components of the proposal.

HMS Principal Craig Pallister told the group expanding the cafeteria and kitchen and adding a gym are urgent needs.

The group attending was small but vocal about sharing concerns.

“So if we’re lacking space, why did we close Kennedy (Middle) School?” one audience member asked after Pallister related the space crunch at HMS.

Wente said the maintenance needed to get Kennedy up to code was too expensive.

The district didn’t questioned putting money into a building they didn’t own, said board clerk Sarah Wasinger.

After Wente said much of the last bond in 1993 was spent on HVAC at Kennedy, an audience member said it seemed foolish to vacate a building the school district had paid to improve.

Security would be addressed in the bond in school building entrances as well.

HMS is the only school that locks all exterior doors during the school day, requiring visitors to buzz in to be admitted.

“I kept track today. Our secretaries got up 53 times today during the school day to answer the buzzer. Then they go out, and they let people in. It’s still not a good security check, but we feel better the way we’re doing it,” Pallister said.

An audience member said he was concerned about accountability in the district.

“My concern is we go ahead and we pass the bond issue. Let’s not jump in and do it right away. Let’s not do it haphazardly,” he said.

Fenwick said the board is showing accountability with its schedules to repair roofs and purchase buses.

“It seems like that has been an effort,” she said.

“You can’t always use a Band-aid. That’s what we’ve been doing, patching all the time,” the audience member said.

The issue of trust was mentioned by someone attending.

“The FAST building, we were lied to with that thing. We were told there would be no tax dollars used on this, but there was. So things like this, people remember.”

With oil and agriculture prices down, “it comes down to dollars and cents,” he said.

Industry trends go up and down, Fenwick said.

“Is it ever a good time to ask for money?” she said.

The next town hall is 6:30 p.m. May 11 at Roosevelt Elementary.