Lynne Hermansen
Special to The Gardner News
The June 6 Gardner-Edgerton School Board meeting began with a presentation by Robert Schwarz, principal planner of RSP and Associates regarding the school district’s future growth.
Schwarz illustrated projected enrollment growth areas through a series of maps.
“Overall, you are a district that’s growing,” he said. “Most districts are decreasing, so congrats,” he said.
Schwarz said they have different challenges with capacity and space availability between the elementary, middle and high schools. He said they foresee about an additional 650 Pre-K students through the 2020-21 school year. He said development activity will also bring residential opportunities.
RSP used a measurement formula to forecast measuring change in order to forecast what the future can bring. Schwarz said the most important factors were Cohort Growth, External Growth, Kindergarten Change and Economic Growth/Scenarios.
Schwarz said 430 migrated into the Gardner-Edgerton School District in 2014-15, and 450 students left the district. They also weighed census data for 0-4 year olds through 2020 in the district along with 15-59 year-olds; along with the number of students in certain planning areas that could be potential residential areas. These planning areas included the I-35 and Gardner Road and I-35 and 175th Street Corridors.
Schwarz, also, emphasized that the enrollment growth is mostly at the high school level. “Student enrollment has increased 11 percent from 2000-01 to now,” he said.
Board members approved a construction contract with Gunter Construction for playground improvements to replace wood mulch with rubber mulch and improve drainage and accessibility. Bruce Kracl, director of operations, said a portion of equipment at Edgerton and Sunflower Elementary schools will be replaced reducing the mulch areas.
“Bruce has done a great job going out to the buildings, taking people out there and working with the building,” Pam Stranathan, superintendent, said. “I appreciate Bruce has taken the time.”
Tresa Boden, board member, agreed with Stranahan. She said as a former nurse she has seen countless injuries on school playgrounds. “There are lots of injuries that occur with wood mulch, so thank you,” she said.
Jeremy McFadden, director of business and finance, also, addressed the board last night about the future of the school district with the recent developments in Topeka in regards to school funding.
“Any unknown scenario a district faces with a finance budget, we try to handle with care,” he said. “We can not make assumptions about the future without facts from Topeka. We trust our abilities, and we will make the best choices we can at the time we get more information.”
Greg Chapman, board member, commended the district on their handling of the current situation. “You’re not ultimately throwing your hands up,” he said. “You care about the staff and community.”