Strategic plan targets school facilities

By DEBORAH McCASLINChief Publisher The goals are in writing. They’ve been identified. Now it is time to formulate the plans. The Broken Bow School Board identified four main areas as short term goals in their board strategic planning retreat last January, and then discussed the plans in detail Monday night. The four main focus areas are Technology, Budget and Staff, Curriculum and Facilities. School facilities has been targeted as a major focus, and it is what was allotted the greatest amount of Monday’s discussion. “The bottom line is that something has to be done,” said Broken Bow’s Superintendent Dr. Virginia Moon. “This is not a wish list, this is a needs list.” The four steps listed on the plan are: 1) Determine the scope of work needed for the district’s elementary facilities; 2) Develop a long-term maintenance plan, and budget for facilities not included in the elementary project; 3) Select an architect; 4) Develop a timeline to determine the scope of work for the elementary project. The school board is looking at breaking the elementary project into two phases. Phase one would have North Park serving grades K-3 and Custer serving 4-5. Needed at North Park in this phase are four additional classrooms for third grade; two additional classrooms to move 2nd grade back into the main building; a media center/computer lab large enough to accommodate K-4; a multipurpose room for PE classes and indoor recess large enough to accommodate K-4, two SPED/special use classrooms, a new mechanical system and a new roof. “Custer will stay open,” emphasized Moon, “and serve grades 4-5.” This list is a very basic list of what is needed, not what is wanted, nor what would be nice, she said Tuesday afternoon. This list is what the school needs today. What would be nice, would be a multipurpose room that serves as a gym for middle school athletics and community teams. “The (current) middle school gym is dangerous,” she said. “We could fill our gyms two-three times over through the winters if we had the space," she said. Phase 2 creates the space needed for North Park to house grades K-4, and Custer to house grades 5-6. To accomplish this goal, four additional classrooms will be needed for fourth grade. This would need to be completed before today’s second graders become 7th graders. The Middle School cannot house four sections of 6th and 7th grade. This phase would also need to address a Media Center at Custer for Middle School students and to adapt the school to serve those students. The need for elevators at Custer and the Middle School also needs to be addressed, she said. The moneys available at nearly no interest have increased, Moon said, to nearly $5.8 million through the state’s Qualified School Construction Fund, but they won’t be there forever. “These funds would help the dollars go further.” At Monday’s meeting, a timeline was discussed, but it was determined that the project isn’t ready to make that determination. Looking at the other strategic goals, within the scope of technology, the board looked at how to implement and integrate increased technology for the students. “We want to have a reliable system where technology is a tool, not an outcome,” said Moon. “The challenge is to first get staff trained, and then to provide for them the time to implement what they’ve just learned.” Within Budget and Staffing, the board is scrutinizing the budget department by department, employee by employee. This process was started early in anticipation of a reduction in state aid. The second largest item on the budget, second only to personnel, is utilities, so that is also a focus. Within Curriculum and Instruction, Moon pointed out they have a lot of data, but not all of it is usable. The question is how to get it to a usable form in a timely manner so that it is beneficial, and so that it is curriculum based. There are plans to increase the dual credit/college classes available through Mid Plains Community College and to add art and foreign language at the elementary level. “Art at the elementary level,” Moon added, “is required. Art, not crafts, has to be on the weekly schedule for the elementary grades.” The recent census showed an increase in Broken Bow’s population. “I just don’t see the numbers going down,” she said.