A special meeting between Gardner city and USD 231 officials was scheduled for June 13 regarding the city parks department continued use of outdoor fields.
USD 231 recently formed Gardner Edgerton Youth and Community Programs which offers programs similar to those previously provided by the Gardner Parks and Recreation department. The district and city had worked in a partnership since about 2012 and guidelines on facilities usage were originally outlined in August 2012, although some staff has changed since then.
E-mail received thru a Kansas open records request and supplied to The Gardner News indicate concern over scheduling conflicts began as early as December 2016, when Scott Garrie, Gardner Parks and Recreation director, asked for the district’s communication point of contact, and Pam Stranathan, USD 231 superintendent, responded.
But it appears communication continued to be a stumbling block, and as recently as May 17, Garrie writes that the department has “proactively reached out to you and requested multiple times within the past two weeks to have a meeting. . . . “
And Garrie continues, “As we learned last night this will also now become a potential safety issue, and we are lucky it was our police chief was there. . . . “ Garrie refers to a scheduling conflict regarding the same field, and the police were called by team members.
In response, Stranathan writes May 17, “You continue to want to communicate and blast the district via e mail. Whoever is communicating with you is not providing a clear understanding as to how the district has functioned in a relationship with parks and rec. . . . . . “
At the June 5 city council meeting, Rich Melton, city councilman, questioned Garrie on whether city staff had met with district officials. Garrie replied that he had reached out to schedule a meeting. There was council discussion at the meeting regarding communication breakdown between the two entities.
May 30, the school district issued a press release that they were forming the Gardner Edgerton Youth and Community Programs.
“The Gardner Edgerton Youth & Community Programs (GEYCP) was created to support and develop quality, educationally-driven activities for youth in and around our community. The program and its activities are administered and managed by members of the USD 231 staff,” the press release says. “GEYCP was launched in May with several opportunities for students to stay active during the summer months.  Programs currently offered include Summer Fun Classes for Youth, Junior Blazerettes Dance Camp, and Junior Blazerettes Dance Program.”
“Summer Fun Classes for Youth is ideal for students already attending USD 231 Summer Enrichment classes or for any student (K-6) who is looking for activities during the summer months. All sessions and activities are led by Gardner Edgerton School District staff and students,” the release continues. “Each session will include a variety of activities such as arts and crafts, educational games, relays, snack preparation and more! Activities will change daily based on interest, and participants will be able to choose what activity they desire. “
Questions to both the city and school district related to budget revenue/expenses were not answered by press time. Questions related to USD 231 staffing costs and program organization and reporting structure were submitted thru a Kansas Open Records request.