Renovations at three of the four buildings at the former Oak Park Medical Complex, 2501 E. 13th, should be complete in time for an Aug. 2 ribbon cutting. What is less certain is if the facility will have a new name by then.
At Monday night’s meeting of the Hays USD 489 school board, Matt Allen of Paul-Wertnerberger Construction gave an update on the renovations of the former medical office buildings into classrooms and other facilities for Early Childhood Connections.
At the end of May, the district announced it would take suggestions of names from the community that will house Early Head Start, Head Start, Parents as Teachers, a preschool and other early childhood programs that are currently at ECC, 305 Main, and in Munjor.
Monday’s agenda packet included a list of about 30 suggested names, but Superintendent John Thissen told the board there were more.
“There’s a longer list, and I need the board’s direction on this because we pulled out about 10 different suggestions because they identified names of people,” Thissen said.
Thissen said the Kansas Association of School Boards recommends against naming buildings after individuals for several reasons, but it’s not an unusual occurrence.
“All over the state, schools do name buildings, public schools and buildings, after individuals. It’s just a matter of whether you wish to or not,” he said.
Thissen recommended the board direct the district administration to suggest a smaller list of names for consideration at a future meeting.
“I think what needs to be shared is the rationale of those choices given to you,” he said.
“The question I have is, with the board’s direction, do we want to include the names of individuals or not,” he said.
Thissen also advised the board to avoid considering a name that would sound close to the preschools in town.
Board member Sophia Rose Young asked about a timeline for naming the facility. Thissen said the right name should be the more important concern.
“We would love to have signage. The sooner we know, the sooner we can work on the signs that would be out in front and be able to share that with the open house, but I don’t think it’s something that has to be done by Aug. 2. Whatever you’re going to name it needs to be done with great thought so you’re happy with it for the next 20 to 30 years,” Thissen said.
The board voted to have the list with the addition of the individuals’ names, along with five recommendations from the administration, brought back for discussion at the July 1 meeting.
In his update on the renovation’s progress, Allen said buildings one, two and four are on schedule or even ahead of schedule.
In building one, the southeast L-shaped structure that will contain offices, meeting rooms and several classrooms, floor work has begun.
In building two, the southwest L-shaped building, ceilings are starting to go up, Allen said. That section will contain more classrooms, offices, a room for parent educators, and rooms for therapy and special education.
In building four, much of the kitchen work has been completed, along with ceiling and flooring.
“We’ve also started on some of the site work this week,” Allen said.
That includes preparing the sites of the storm shelters and adding sidewalks to new exit points.
Building three, which will contain classrooms and offices for programs currently in the Munjor school, has begun interior framing. It’s scheduled to be completed by the end of August.
The third week in July is the target to start moving ECC from the former Washington Elementary School at 305 Main, with the move from Munjor in August. Playground equipment from both sites will also be moved to the new facility.