by Valerie Verkamp
On a split vote among its board of education members, the Platte County R-3 School District has decided to team with Platte County Parks and Recreation to fund a $5.4 million dollar aquatics center.
The school’s portion of the costs, including interest, financing, etc. is in the neighborhood of $2 million.
Platte County Board of Education approved the measure Thursday evening following a lengthy and intense discussion.
The architectural plans were presented to the board by Superintendent Dr. Mike Reik.
He described the aquatics center as an eight-lane, 25-yard swimming pool. It will be equipped with two diving boards, bleachers, separate team locker rooms, and a separate entrance and exit.
The design plans of the facility are geared toward meeting the requirements for a full multi-team competitive function to allow the school swimming team the opportunity to have swim meets in Platte City. Additionally, the architectural plan includes a glass curtain dividing the pool area from the rest of the community center.
The new indoor pool would expand to where the outdoor water park is currently located.
Reik stated that the cooperative agreement is with Platte County and not the YMCA.
“I think the county is probably about as good as a partner that we could find in terms of honor and good faith agreement,” he added.
According to the facilities development and operation cooperative agreement, the cost to the school district is $1,358,020 to be paid over a ten year time frame. The estimated annual cost would be ten percent of the $1.358 million, Superintendent Reik said. This is approximately $135,802 a year, excluding any financing fees and interest cost.
In addition, the aquatics center's operation cost is projected to be $25,000 a year.
“It would be a 20-year term with a school district option for a 20- year renewal. I want to make that clear, at the end of 20 years the school district makes a determination if they want to continue being a partner,” he said.
As the board members weighed in, it was evident that there were mixed feelings among board members concerning the swimming facility.
Board member Julie Vanover stated she was concerned with what the school district may be “missing out on” as a result of this expensive project. She brought up the option of renting the swimming facility, since the community center plans to expand regardless of whether or not the school district elects to share the financial burden.
“We could. It would not be eight lanes, I know that for sure,” Superintendent Reik said. “It would not have any of the competitive advancements. It may only have four lanes (county officials indicated in their meeting this week without the school’s involvement the pool would have been six lanes). We would be able to rent that facility for practices and things like that. We could not have any competitive meets there.”
“[F]rom looking at the places our teams go now, they don't have separate entrances at the Y, and they don't have separate locker rooms,” board member Jeanna Houlahan stated.
She further inquired if is possible to “cut down” on the cost. She added that the North YMCA is also planning to expand their pool by adding several lanes.
Dr. Reik explained, “I would not bring this for consideration to the board of education if I thought it was going to impede our ability to deliver our comprehensive school improvement plan goals, and achieve those goals and objectives. Nor would I do it, if I thought it was coming at a cost of academic achievement. I do not feel that is the recommendation put before the board. I am telling you this from my knowledge and understanding of the budget.”
Board member Mary Temperelli spoke adamantly about this being an ideal time to take advantage of the current environment for constructing this project.
“I am really struck by the fact that this agreement would represent something at about one quarter of the cost of the Gladstone/North Kansas City agreement,” she stated.
Superintendent Reik additionally discussed the academic benefits of extracurricular activities and physical fitness.
“There are some strong correlations between extracurricular participation and GPA; graduation rates; college placement and acceptance; and eventually earning potential.”
Other benefits the aquatics center could provide to the community include the option of using the facility for before and after school child watch, as well as summer school, he added.
Karen Wagoner mentioned for the 10-year duration she has been on the board there has been ongoing discussions concerning a pool.
“This is the first real project that I think was cost effective and has a return on our investment that we are looking for for our dollars,” she said.
Following a lengthy discussion, the board approved to enter into the Facilities Development and Operating Cooperative Agreement on a 5-2 vote. Board members Julie Vanover and Jeana Houlahan voted against the motion.
Voting in favor were Wagoner, Temperelli, Sharon Sherwood, Adam McGinness, and Lenora Miles.
The entire community will be able to utilize and benefit from the new recreation facility, Reik reported.
In other business at Thursday night’s meeting of the R-3 board, Dr. Mike Brown, assistant superintendent, presented to the board the 2010-2011 assessment results.
According to the results, four subgroups did not meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) proficiency score in communication arts and math. Letters have been sent home to parents and guardians notifying them of the results and letting them know whether their child qualifies for free-tutoring.
Platte County R-3 isn’t the only local school district having trouble with NCLB. Park Hill School District is also on the “needs-improvement” list. According to the Park Hill School District’s website several sub-groups did not meet the NCLB proficiency score in communication arts and one sub-group did not meet the NCLB proficiency score in mathematics.
Dr. Brown said that the Platte County School District did receive 14 out of 14 on the annual state performance report and earned a distinction in performance award.
Also at Thursday night's meeting, Phil Dorman reported that at this years Missouri State High School Activities Association Sportsmanship Summit, they received an award called the five star banner leadership program. Six of the 16 students that attended the sportsman summit in August, presented to the board lessons they learned from that experience.
The five star banner hangs in the school's front lobby. This is the sixth year the Platte County School District has attended.