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R-2 project costs increase

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Some unexpected expenditures arose in the construction of a southwest addition to the West Platte High School.

According to Superintendent Kyle Stephenson, nearly $20,000 in unexpected costs came up when electrical and plumbing lines were found underground that weren’t supposed to be there.

Stephenson stated that the portion of the building that was built in the 1930’s was supposed to have these lines run through the walls of the building, but once construction began it was determined that they were underground.

Currently the cost of the addition is $1.2 million, but Stephenson stated that the board didn’t take any final action on amending that cost due to the architects negotiations with the construction company. Stephenson said it’s the boards intent to hold out on any final decision until the architect has been able to negotiate the new cost down as much as possible.

The $1.2 million addition will feature a new cafeteria, multi-purpose room, weight room, band room and a new entrance to the back of the school, as well as renovations to the junior high science and art classrooms.

Stephenson also stated the board was informed about a potential parks and recreation partnership between the Platte County Commission and the school district. The partnership would entail a $1 million contribution from the county in the addition of baseball fields, a possible facility with indoor basketball courts/place to hold soccer events, or additional parks space.

Stephenson said the partnership is only a discussion, but if something were to be established the facilities developed would be owned by the school district. While they may be owned by the district, the district would try and retain other entities in aiding with maintenance needs and costs. He stated one such possibility may be the leasing of the facilities to the Weston Sports Association.

“The purpose of this partnership would be to try and improve the quality of life for everyone over here,” said Stephenson.

Stephenson also reported that the district has 290 students signed up to date for summer school, with 30 students signed up for drivers education. Summer school, which will run from May 28-June 28, will be operated for the first time by Edison Summer Schools of New York. Edison will handle the curriculum, while funding half of the districts transportation costs and paying the teachers salaries.

The board also discussed the declining enrollment the district has seen over the past couple of years. Stephenson reported that since his first year with the district in 2000, the district has seen a steady decline in enrollment. In 2000, enrollment for West Platte stood at 711 students, this year the school districts enrollment was 685 students. Stephenson stated he is currently estimating seeing an enrollment of around 670-675 students for the upcoming 2002-2003 school year.

“When you graduate a class of 64 students like we did this year, and then you only anticipate a kindergarten class of around 51 students coming in next year, you can see where the loss is,” said Stephenson.

Stephenson also reported that the board of education received the assessed evaluation for 2002-2003 for the district. New construction for the district saw an increase of $405,150 while the personal property changes saw an increase of $157,368.

“We just haven’t experienced the growth like other districts in the area,” said Stephenson. “I was a little disappointed with this year’s evaluations, but maybe next year will be better.”

The board also approved stage 3 of the Career Ladder Program. The program is offered to teachers who have completed phases one and two of the program previously. Stephenson stated that teachers who decide to participate in phase 3 of the program and complete it, will receive an additional $5,000 bonus to their salary. The district will be responsible for the funding of 60 percent of the program, with the state responsible for the remaining 40 percent.

Stephenson stated that the board also approved the purchase of new equipment for the new cafeteria and the old cafeteria for $85,000. Board members also approved a raise in the base salary for the support staff of $.35. Stephenson said all the districts support staff were re-hired, and the raise will affect approximately 23 staff members.