At a special board meeting Thursday, the USD 475 Board of Education provided an update on the Memorandums of Understanding the school district is drafting between the district and the city for the future of the old high school property at 900 N. Eisenhower Drive.
Board President Ron Johnson said members of the board sat down with city officials, Parks and Recreation and the school district and city’s attorneys earlier in the week to discuss what would be included in the MOUs.
“We were all able to bring to the table past agreements and kind of walk through where we want to be in the future,” he said. “There were points that we all agreed upon on how to move forward and what language we wanted to see (in the MOUs).”
Johnson said they will establish an expiration date that will ensure the MOUs come before each new board member in the future.
Kristy Haden, board vice president, said each agreement would come before the board at least every four years, so every school board member and city commissioner can review it. Additionally, there will be no charges involved in the process of reviewing or renewing the MOUs. If the property facilities need upgrades in the future, Haden said they discussed both entities pitching in to cover the cost of those upgrades.
Haden said they also listed out what facilities are needed and what facilities the city would like to use for other schools on the property. She said the MOUs will be drafted and presented back to the district before August for review and finalization.
Johnson said the discussions allowed him to get a better understanding on what city properties the district invested in previously.
Jim Schmidt said he doesn’t agree with the way the city and district discussed sharing costs for future events and activities on the property.
“I think we’re all very cavalier with taxpayer dollars to think that it’s all going to work out in the wash,” he said. “I think past practices have been very loosey-goosey, like ‘hey we’ll do a little bit of this, as long as we can do that.’ I think history shows us it hasn’t worked out very well.”
Schmidt referred to 12th Street, which the district helped to pay for. He said the school district no longer uses it because the city wants to charge the district for using it. He said he thinks the smarter way to deal with the property is to have the district pay for district activities on the property and have the city pay for city activities.
“The difference may only be a couple thousand dollars this year, or it may be $100,000 the next year,” he said. “I don’t think any of us would enter into that agreement if it was our personal finances, so why would we agree with no understanding of utilization going forward?”
Johnson said when the MOUs are drafted, the school district and the city will further discuss the details of it and any amendments before its approval. No actions were taken at the meeting.
At the same special meeting, Chief Operations Officer David Wild presented proposed updates to the facilities master plan of the school district for 2023 and 2024.
The proposed changes and amounts are not yet approved or exact, Wild said, and the staff will bring back a plan for approval at a future board meeting.
The changes for 2023 include a $700,000 price increase to demolition costs of the old Junction City High School (due to speeding up the process,) $1.3 million for replacement of old roof sections of Ware Elementary School, $160,000 for lifecycle replacement of district security cameras and $75,000 for the development of a Junction City High School JROTC obstacle course. Wild also said the staff is searching for replacements for high school athletic transport vehicles.
Wild said the board previously authorized the staff to take a look at the roof at Ware Elementary, and they discovered that most of the roof needed replaced.
Wild said the proposed amount for an obstacle course for JROTC is a placeholder currently.
“It would be good to see those young people using their own obstacle course, as opposed to working down here at 5th Street Park if you’ve ever seen them having to make the best use of trees down there to accommodate their requirement,” Wild said.
Wild presented a list of proposed expenses for 2024 that includes space and infrastructure needs, replacements and maintenance for safety and security, vehicle replacement, school equipment replacement and setting aside funds for future replacement of stadium turf, fitness equipment and other potential replacement requirements going forward. Additionally, the proposal includes setting aside around $60,000 for fine arts needs as they arise.
The total proposed amount for fiscal year 2024 is $4,453,500.
Wild said the staff plan to bring a plan for approval to the next regular board meeting on April 11 at 6 p.m. at the Devin Center.