Board to hear Iola school proposal


Local News

November 26, 2018 - 11:15 AM

USD 257 school board members, from left, Jerad Larkey, Nancy Toland and Mary Apt. REGISTER FILE PHOTO

USD 257 board members and the public can expect to hear a long-awaited proposal for a new elementary school in Iola at a meeting tonight.

A steering committee has been studying the state of district schools and how to best meet their needs.

Over the past year, committee members have narrowed their choices and they’ll present their recommendation to board members at 6 o’clock tonight at the board office, 305 N. Washington.

If the board follows the recommendations, they’ll begin plans to introduce a bond issue for voter approval.

The committee worked to compile wide-ranging needs and wants into one acceptable package. They’ve expressed a desire to keep the bond issue at $25-$30 million, which would cost the owner of a $75,000 home about $10-$15 a month in increased property taxes. The lower amount would pay for a new elementary school and would not address other needs at the middle and high schools.

A new elementary school that combines preschool through fifth grade could save at least $300,000 a year in increased cost efficiencies, studies have shown. The district could save on a reduction of staff, the elimination of duplicating services in three buildings, including three cafeterias and three gymnasiums, as well as saving valuable time for instruction.

Two locations have been identified for a new elementary school. One site is between 20 to 30 acres of vacant land north of Allen Community College. The other site is 15 acres on Monroe Street, one block north of U.S. 54 at the intersection of Kentucky, but that site could come with additional, unknown costs to remediate the soil because contamination from zinc smelters in the neighborhood more than 100 years ago.

A decision is expected to be revealed tonight.

Other priorities include a new heating and cooling system for Iola Middle School, a new science and technology center for the high school as well as a storm shelter to be shared by the two schools, and a new cafeteria and lunchroom for the high school.