R-2 directors organize facility needs, wants list to be prioritized

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 7/20/22

The Gasconade County R-2 Long Range Facility Planning Committee met July 11 to discuss what action needs to be taken to maintain and improve campuses within the school district.

Superintendent Dr. …

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R-2 directors organize facility needs, wants list to be prioritized

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The Gasconade County R-2 Long Range Facility Planning Committee met July 11 to discuss what action needs to be taken to maintain and improve campuses within the school district.

Superintendent Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy began with the Administration Building.

The committee toured all buildings in the district between April and July and came up with the following list.

“On the Admin Building — our building is up-to-date,” Hardy said. “We don’t really have a lot of need here.”

She mentioned from the prior Long-Range Facility Planning meeting, that they discussed moving the basketball court to behind the Administration Building once Casey General Store started its construction.

“I know that’s supposed to start, it’s on the calendar now,” Hardy said. “We want to keep those basketball courts because they get used quite a bit, where sometimes the park facilities don’t get used, this is right here in town.”

The property adjoining the Administration building, including the gravel road and basketball court, was all sold to the convenience store. The district still has parking on its side and in front of the building. They are unsure what will happen as far as parking when Casey begins building. 

Building plans were recently submitted to the city for review by its contracted engineering firm and have been approved, according to City Administrator Randy Blaske.

Blaske said Casey’s has been approved to build a 3,300-square foot building. The lot will have 10 fuel pumps and entrances will be at three locations — Highway 28, Highway 19, and off of Jefferson Avenue.

“That is something we will have to look at when they start building,” Hardy said. “The only other thing I have ever heard mentioned was maybe a digital sign out in front.”

The bus barn was next.

“The bus barn expansion is done,” Hardy said. “The only other thing that I have on there that could be included is purchasing of buses. However, we have that on rotation.”

Under all buildings, Hardy said technology upgrades are always needed.

“Phone systems, we are going to have to do something because Fidelity put in our phone system and now they no longer service our phones,” Hardy said. “Those are kind of a mess and they are not cheap.”

Committee members asked about security features at each school. “We replace cameras as they go out,” Hardy said. “Our fobs and door systems are really good, but the cameras in the buildings are something we need to add to that list.”

Both Owensville Middle School (OMS) Principal Teresa Schulte and former Gerald Elementary School principal Jared Tharp expressed concerns about the location of the buildings’ offices in relation to the doors for safety reasons.

“There is that blind spot at the middle school from the first set of doors to the office,” the committee discussed.

“Before they get to the office, they could go right to go to the sixth-grade hall or left to go down to eighth grade,” Hardy said. “So that was something they talked about at both OMS and GES was adding a better system of checking in.”

Committee members had a few suggestions for the stadium. The turf is more than 10 years old in Dutchmen Stadium, with a life expectancy of 10 years. Some of the paint is also fading on the turf.

“You can buy turf paint to get us through because our field still looks pretty good,” Hardy said. “Athletic Director Matt Johnson is checking in on the turf paint.”

Replacing the turf was $250,000 a few years ago when the replacement was discussed.

Committee members suggested looking for a company that could replace worn spots with patches versus installing a whole new surface.

Other stadium needs included a concrete sidewalk where individuals can bring their own chairs to sit and avoid climbing into the stands. New lighting was also a concern as the old system cannot be maintained and will need to be replaced once it begins to fail.

Hardy suggested spending a little bit extra to connect a sound system to the lighting system when it is replaced. “We looked at the lighting and it doesn’t cost a lot of extra to put in the controls,” Hardy said. “Then we can set our lights to the football team, to come out to certain music. It is not very expensive at all to add that on there.”

Hardy said the only issue they have with the baseball field is the screening which was donated after the field was built.

“The fencing wasn’t built to hold a screen,” Hardy said. “It is too heavy and when we get a high wind, it blows the fence down every time. Our fence is not a large enough gauge for the screen that is so heavy.”

Hardy said the screen is supposed to come down after every season and they need to be more diligent about taking it down.

At Gerald Elementary School, board members noted that the teacher’s lounge needs to be updated and the teacher bathrooms need to be rearranged. It needs more storage for the office, lounge and cafeteria areas. The cafeteria also has no storage for dry goods.

“When we get commodity or food trucks in, we have to store (supplies) at a different location and haul them over to that building,” Hardy said.

LED lights in the main hall also need to be replaced and matched to the new addition on the backside.

“Jason is checking on the ceramic tile primer and paint so it is not that smoky beige color,” Hardy said. “We also talked about the low ceilings in the older portion of the school.”

Board members asked about the hallway to the east of the cafeteria that has an opening to look through.

“If it is not a structural wall, you could open it up and add it into the cafeteria,” Hardy said. “There are also bathrooms in that area.”

Hardy said that would be six to eight feet of additional space that could be added to the cafeteria.

“We had talked about the electrical room there if we could have brought the hallway out, but all the electrical wiring runs through there,” Hardy said.

GES teachers also suggested an awning at the new loading/unloading zone. Committee members said if they could design an awning that was aesthetically pleasing to each school it could be a consideration.

Board Director Debbie Landolt asked if they usually kept the students in the building until loading so they aren’t standing outside? Hardy said yes, and a committee member added that it was raining the day they toured the building.

“They said the same thing at the middle school and OES,” Hardy said. “And the back of high school doesn’t have any awnings. The car rider at OES, the way the curvature goes, unless you did the triangular panels. But how long are those going to last?”

Other items for GES were to replace the gym and then use the old gym space for storage. The curtain on the gym stage needs to be replaced and outdoor playground equipment will need to be rotated out due to the dangers of square tubing on the equipment versus round tubing.

Owensville Elementary School (OES) is again requesting an awning in front of the building.

“It would definitely take away from the aesthetics,” Hardy said.

Adding an awning to parent pickup behind the building would be easier. There is concrete work that needs to be done and additional playground equipment on the preschool playground is wanted.

The entryway flooring at OES is a concern, as tiles have peeled up and been removed to prevent causing a trip hazard. The tile was starting to pull away from the wall six years ago.

“The entryway flooring is an area of concern,” Hardy said.

OMS was next.

Paul Schmanke, a member of the committee, told Hardy the school board should seriously evaluate where the offices are now.

“Reconfiguring that library and that art room,” Schmanke said. “It would take some work but I think it can be done. The concern is valid.”

He said OES is kind of in the same boat except there aren’t classrooms inside the door. 

Hardy said it may be possible to move the art room door to an interior hallway and close off the library door in the entryway.

Schmanke asked if the art room had a door in the north hallway. Hardy said no, but thought they could put one there.

“I can’t think of many schools that I have been to — I think I have been to a lot of schools — where the moment I enter the main entrance I have instant access to kids,” Schmanke said. 

Additionally, committee members asked if the outdoor cameras gave a good view of the visitor and if they are carrying any backpacks or bags. Hardy said it depends on the view, as they are walking up.

“When they are walking up you can see if they are carrying a bag,” Hardy said. “This is the bad part. When you look at school shootings, it’s not going to be a parent. It is going to be a student.”

Schmanke said he feels the configuration of the entry needs to be evaluated by the board.

Hardy said the only other thing she had down was the HVAC system and bleachers in the gym.

Hardy said they could use the OMS gym if they remodeled it. Landolt agreed. “With a remodel we talked about of course we would have to replace the floor, take care of the HVAC and replace the bleachers and then they could use it.”

At Owensville High School, Schmanke said he thinks the board should move forward with a performing arts center and connect the two buildings, the high school and ag buildings.

“Bring that whole building together,” Schmanke said. “Then you don’t have to worry about kids connecting.”

Hardy said that is a security feature in itself, along with rain coverage between buildings.

“I think that is the next big ticket investment that the district makes,” Schmanke said. “I would move the weight room then to the band room and bring all of the performing arts to that end of the building.”

Committee members agreed that it would open a lot of space that they could utilize for other things.

“Make the shop bigger and the new pilot program that is currently using the paint bay for the ag department,” Hardy said.

Schmanke said it creates efficiencies for physical education as well because they are not spending five minutes going back and forth to the weight room. He added that hopefully the community keeps growing and the next phase will be expanding the locker rooms from the athletic department to house more students.

“I don’t think it is this phase, but a big enough priority to look forward to,” Schmanke said. “You see all of the surrounding districts putting in a performing arts center. I think it should get community support.”

The performing arts center plans under former superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner seated 1,400 students. “It clears out the small gym during basketball season when the performing arts would shut down the small gym,” Schmanke said.

Award banquets and graduation ceremonies could be conducted there as well according to Woody Schlottach, without worrying about the high school gym.

“If it was that big though I would be concerned about parking,” Schlottach said.

Hardy said the building will be almost even with the front of the high school, not in between the front and the back. It will push the border on the north side of the property. The main entrance would be from the front.

Schmanke asked how many people would be at graduation as that is the biggest crowd all year. Landolt asked how many people the gym holds and was told 2,200, not including standing room.

“Some of the concerns we have is with the cost of everything and inflation, we are going to have to do due diligence and get an estimate for square footage,” Landolt said. “But if we only have the bonding capacity to do so much, do we build that? We are not going to be able to build everything we really want.”

Hardy said the only other item at OHS is new bleachers for the gym.

“Those bleachers were put in when that gym was built and the life expectancy of them is close to meeting its limit,” Hardy said. “And the courtyards.”

There has been a drainage problem in the courtyards and maintenance issues. 

“What the board is going to do is take everything that we have talked about today and categorize it into district needs, (what comes first), as money is available and considering our options over time,” Hardy said. “The locker room space would be the next phase. It goes on the list and we need to consider it over time. Everything that you all have brought to our attention we will take to the board and price it all out.”

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