KCSD board hears early results of facilities study

MILL HALL — At Thursday night’s Keystone Central school board meeting, the board heard from representatives from Crabtree, Rorbaugh and Associates, a group that is in the process of conducting a facilities study in the district.

The presentation was given by Jeff Straub and Fred Withum. During the lengthy presentation, both Straub and Withum talked about what went into the study, conditions of the district’s schools and future options. Currently, they have completed enrollment analysis and building surveys. The facility condition assessments are in progress and they are focusing on the district’s southern elementary schools. In February, the group will complete a district-wide facility assessment and refinement of option development. Then, in March and April, there will be a completion of a study booklet, incorporating input from stakeholders.

“We are still very early in this process,” Straub said.

One of the key items when conducting a facility study, Straub said, is the facility condition index — or FCI.

Each elementary school was given an FCI. Dickey Elementary, which covers 45,414 square feet, had the lowest FCI, at 40. Liberty-Curtin Elementary, which covers 30,113 square feet, had the second lowest FCI, 44. Robb Elementary, at 79,900 square feet had an FCI of 62. On the higher end were Mill Hall Elementary (44,800 square feet) at 71 and Woodward Elementary (27,000 square feet) at 74, the highest among the elementary schools.

“Dickey and Liberty-Curtin are the two buildings that have the most age in your school district that there hasn’t been a major renovation project,” Straub noted. “Dickey Elementary is in that 55- to 60-year age. Really, there have been very minimal projects done over the years. Liberty-Curtin is in a similar situation. Many of your other elementary schools and your secondary buildings have been recently renovated.”

According to Straub, Dickey would need to undergo major renovations in the near future to remain viable.

“We’re saying that there are systems in that school — around 4 million dollars (in projects) — that need to be addressed in the near future. Can some of these things be put off? Most definitely, but they’re really at a critical stage and the staff has to spend a substantial amount of time maintaining the systems,” Straub said.

With that in mind, he laid out several options to deal with the aging schools:

Option 1: Close Dickey Elementary, build an addition to Mill Hall Elementary and renovate or build a new Liberty-Curtin Elementary.

Option 2: Close Dickey Elementary, close Liberty-Curtin Elementary and build an addition to Mill Hall Elementary.

Option 3: Option 1 and close Robb Elementary as well.

Option 4: Build one centralized southern elementary school.

Option 5: Option 1 and realign grades at both Central Mountain Middle School and Central Mountain High School.

KCSD superintendent Jacquelyn Martin said that the options are merely for discussion purposes. The facilities study is being conducted so the board can make thoughtful decisions in the coming years.

“I want to make sure that everyone knows this is just a point of information. This board is not making any decisions about closures. Closing and re-aligning students does not only depend on dollars. There is an impact to students, community members and parents when school districts have to look at these decisions. I just want to make sure … we are just looking at information and we are not making any decisions,” Martin said.

In other business Thursday night, the board:

— Tabled a bill for payment for the Sugar Valley Rural Charter School in the amount of $532,917.19. KCSD and SVRCS have entered into negotiations for renewal of the school’s charter.

— Announced that the district made a profit of $9,991.35 from its first-ever surplus sale, which was held earlier this month.

— Unanimously passed policy 805.3, which reads: “the Keystone Central School District Board authorizes its School

Police Officers and its School Security Officers to carry certain approved weapons, depending on the particular training and certification of the Officer, which weapons include, but are not limited to firearms, on school property both during and outside of normal class hours, and on or off school property both during and outside normal class hours. The following rules and regulations shall govern those School Police Officers and School Security Officers who are approved and/or authorized to carry weapons.” That item was pulled from the agenda for separate discussion.

There was a strong police presence at this week’s board meeting in light of last week’s situation when a man who lives outside the district disrupted the board meeting during public comment. The disruption forced a recess and subsequent delay. At this week’s meeting, school police placed a small yellow barrier between the board and those who were speaking.

During this week’s public comment, members of the board were asked about the barrier.

“It’s to keep individuals from walking up in front of us,” explained board member Roger Elling.

The board will meet again for a work session at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6 at the Central Mountain High School auditorium.