Danedri Thompson
[email protected]m
School board members approved a memorandum of understanding between USD 231 and four homeowners adjacent to the site where a new middle school and elementary school are being built.
The approval will allow school officials to move forward with a plan to deed a sliver of district land to the homeowners in order to save a mature tree line on the western edge of the soon-to-be-constructed middle and elementary school campus.
Under the existing plans for new schools, the district would build a fence along the site’s western property line where a line of mature trees now sits. The installation of the fence would mean the destruction of the tree line. Under the memorandum board members approved on July 16, the sliver of land with the trees will be deeded to adjacent residents and the fence will be built on the property line just east of the trees.
The modification to the property lines will require that the district’s plat plans be approved a second time by the Gardner City Planning Commission and the city council.
“We all agree this is an awful lot of work to go through to change the legal descriptions, but it’s for a good reason,” Gary Diener, director of operations, told board members during a July 16 meeting.
Deiner estimates that the district will have approvals for the changes to the plans from the planning commission and city council by mid-August.
“The only thing this is holding up a little bit is the actual building permit,” Diener said. “But (the city) is working with us and allowing us to do the work.”
Also related to the construction of the new schools, board members approved a list of modifications to the school bond project. The list was not included in board information packets given to the press, but Diener told board members it included things like building an eight-foot fence instead of a six-foot fence and using recycled materials for pavements. In total, Diener told the board the modifications will result in $37,000 in savings.
The board of education agreed to split the cost of an electrical infrastructure loop with Gardner’s electric utility. Both entities will spend $10,000 apiece to fund a loop that would create a redundancy inelectric service to the school. That would allow the utility to provide continuous service to the district should certain systems falter.
In other business, school board members:
• approved the annual facility usage agreement with the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department (JCPRD). JCPRD uses school buildings for before and after school programs, extended kindergarten programs, pre-school programs and summer camps. Under the new contract, JCPRD will pay an additional $6 per hour per classroom through Dec. 31 and an additional $7.50 starting Jan. 1.  USD 231 collected $101,460 in usage fees during the last school year.
• approved the $24, 795 purchase of 150 student desks and chairs for Gardner Edgerton High School.
• approved a $49,200 contract with KC Master Companies for foundation work at Nike Elementary School. Diener told board members that cinder blocks on some interior walls at the school are separating. The work should be completed by the time teachers report to school on Aug. 6.
• approved a $54,057 quote from Kansas Gas Services to provide gas service to the new elementary and middle school campus. The quote includes $22,092 for extraordinary construction costs, like digging through rock. Should those not incur, the difference will be refunded to the district.
• approved the hiring of John Duncanson as interim associate principal at GEHS; the hiring of five new teachers and four new classified staff members; accepted the retirements and/or resignations of six teachers and seven classified staff members; approved the termination of a math building aide at Wheatridge Middle School and accepted the resignations/retirements/terminations of seven district staff employees.