by Alan McArthur
By a 6-1 vote, the Platte County R-3 Board of Education decided to move forward with a plan to present a bond issue to voters in April.
The plan calls for an addition of classrooms to the Paxton School, the renovation of Barry, and a vocal room for the high school.
One board member objected to the plan on Thursday.
“I feel differently, I feel our focus should be creating a K-5 elementary school,” said Patricia Stinnett, board member. “I believe (the need for) classroom space is immediate and we need a new school. We haven’t even looked at any other options and I still have concerns about the Stiles building.”
“We don’t have to buy the Stiles building,” said Harpst. “If we were to use our bonding capacity in 2008, it would be 2010 before the building would be ready.”
The potential purchase of the Stiles building, located near the middle school on the Platte City campus, will be discussed at a public hearing on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.. at the central office. It is not included in the bond issue question.
Stinnett expressed concern about having a new building (Stiles) for administration and buses and having kindergarten students in older buildings (Rising Star).
“I think it’s difficult to have administration and buses in a nicer building than the kindergartners,” said Stinnett. “I think it sends a message of what is more important.”
“There’s always going to be a perception, no matter when you do it, with a bus barn of, ‘hey you could have built classrooms with that money,’” said Dick Modin, board member. “Until the barn is built people are going to say that. Right now the Stiles building is such a great opportunity.”
Stinnett told the board she thinks the current plan will not solve the problems in the future.
“Either way I think it’s just a short term fix,” said Stinnett. “I’m just asking to flop the plan and build the K-5 first.”
“So if we go with a K-5 in 2009, that would mean we’d forego the Barry improvements, bus barn, and music room until 2011,” said Karen Wagoner, board member.
One idea discussed for a location of a new K-5 is on the Duncan property in Platte City, however the best location is on the backside that is not yet accessible from Fourth Street.
“We can talk with the city about building the road for the property,” said Stinnett.
“We’ve talked with the city and we would have to build the road,” said Harpst. “The issue with Fourth Street is there is a hill that would have to be cut down. I’ve been told the city plans to cut the hill and widen the street by 2010.”
“So it would save us money if we could time the K-5 with the city’s road plan,” said Wagoner.
“I think the big advantage of waiting is to that we wouldn't have to spend money on the road,” said Dave Holland, board member. “Otherwise that’s a lot of money spent not on students.”
“I think our focus has just shifted away from building a K-5 school,” said Stinnett.
“We have never made a commitment for a K-5 school, we want to get there eventually, but we’ve never made a commitment,” said Harpst. “If you want to build a K-5 tell me where, and we’ll figure out how to fund it.”
“We are providing more elementary space either way,” said Harpst. “Even through the Stiles building we get more space by moving early childhood there.”
In the end, the board voted to move forward with the April 2008 bond issue. Only Stinnett voted against moving forward with the plan.
“I just think that if we consider the Stiles building, then we should hold a public forum for parents to come,” said Stinnett.
After some discussion the board decided to hold the special meeting on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.