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Enrollment & Energy Top the Agenda for De Soto School Board Meeting This Evening

Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise | Photo Credit: 123rf stock image | Logo Credit: De Soto School District

De Soto School District’s Board of Education will meet Monday, June 11, at 6 p.m.

In addition to routine agenda items — such as approving the hiring of new employees and accepting a $10 donation to Mill Valley High School — board members have a full schedule. They will be considering hiring two companies to assist the district. One would study enrollment patterns and school boundaries, and the other would help the district save money through energy conservation. In addition, board members will hear an update on construction funded by the school bond sales.

Increasing enrollment and uneven distribution of students in middle schools means the district may need to make some boundary changes. Administration is seeking approval to hire a consulting firm to gather data that would help with decision making relating to boundary lines, budgeting and staffing, according to Alvie Cater, director of administrative services and community relations. Currently one of the three middle schools has a disproportionately smaller number of students enrolled. Over the past few months, a district committee interviewed representatives of two companies interested in this consulting job. And tonight Cater will recommend the board hire RSP & Associates at a cost of $53,700.

Also tonight, board members will consider hiring Energy Education to help the district save money through conservation. For most districts, utility costs are one of the highest budget items next to staff salaries. According to Facilities Director Steve Deghand, working with the Energy Education company could save more than $4 million over the next decade. Although this item was on last month’s agenda, board members decided to wait until June to make a decision.

In addition to these two action items, board members will hear an update on expansion of De Soto High School. This is the only remaining project to be funded by $75 million in school bond sales approved by voters in 2008. District administrators also applied for funding assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for a storm shelter that is part of the expansion. Tonight board members will receive official notification that FEMA has approved an $800,000 payment. Contractors had to wait until this payment was finalized before breaking ground on the area where the storm shelter will be built. In addition to the storm shelter, phase two at De Soto High School includes renovation of the existing wrestling and locker rooms, gymnasium and performing arts center. Also, the district is adding a 44,000-square-foot activities wing with a second, larger gymnasium, ticket booth and concession stand. According to district administrators, expansion is necessary because of increasing enrollment.

“Overall, progress is moving along well, weather continues to cooperate, and things are beginning to come together,” Deghand writes in tonight’s report to the board. “We have run into a couple of issues concerning the renovation of existing locker room areas and the weight room area. Misplaced conduit and wiring … from original build have been cut in a couple instances due to not being where they were supposed to be. These issues will not be difficult to overcome and are not all that surprising when dealing with remodeling projects.”

The Board of Education meeting, which is open to the public, will take place in the district Administration/Board of Education Building; 35200 West 91st St.; De Soto, KS 66018. And the next meeting will take place Monday, July 9.

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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