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Committee coming closer to final proposal

1/26/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

After more than a year of study, the Hays USD 489 facilities needs committee could have a recommendation for the board of education as early as next month.

The committee met Friday morning, and members discussed what remained to be done to complete the process.

Members still are considering the best location for The Learning Center, Westside Alternative School and central administrative staff offices if the Rockwell Administration Building is closed because of its condition.

Several scenarios, including moving Westside to Munjor and adding The Learning Center to a new district warehouse building near Hays High School, have been considered.

The committee also has considered closing or repurposing Washington Elementary School.

The plan now is to remodel the first floor of Washington, and move Westside and The Learning Center there, Superintendent Dean Katt said.

Administrative offices would be added to the new district warehouse, proposed to be built near Hays High School.

As an alternative to moving offices and programs, committee members have asked for a cost estimate to renovate Rockwell. They also would like costs of building new schools to compare to the costs of renovations and additions they are considering.

"At some point, the schools have to be brought up to speed or replaced," Tom Drees said.

With the school district facing a budget shortfall, several committee members asked if it would be able to maintain the upgraded facilities.

Katt said as far as he knows, the district hasn't had a maintenance schedule in the past.

"I think it's just making a plan and make it work that way," Katt said.

"It's important to find out what happened, so we don't repeat the history," Tammy Wellbrock said of the district's budget issues.

"There was no financial accountability in this district," BOE President Greg Schwartz said.

"(We're) cleaning up the budget to make it readable. The board's got to do a better job explaining that," Schwartz said.

When the final numbers for the Rockwell renovation and new construction costs are in place, the committee might be ready to sign off on a recommendation.

"I'm ready to move this along," Todd Powell said. "I can't think of anything else we need to study."

"I think we've addressed what we were asked to do in terms of looking at the facilities' needs," Aaron White said.