Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

The new Patton Junior High School is set to open in August 2022. The approval of a two-year construction plan by the Unified School District 207 school board was made during the monthly board meeting Nov. 25 in MacArthur Elementary School’s cafeteria.

The board was presented with two courses of action by Mike Burson, project construction manager with Titan Construction LLC.

The two-year completion timeline was weighed against a three-year completion timeline and, while both had advantages, it was determined that the benefits of a shorter construction time would outweigh the benefits of a longer construction time.

“I would not have presented a schedule or a course of action tonight that is not something that myself and Titan believes is doable,” Burson said. “If you were to look at the detail of each schedule, we have built in some unforeseen condition time including weather and other unknowns into the schedule. …I’m a very conservative scheduler.”

Advantages to a two-year projection timeline include the school opening sooner; it will cost $100,000 less in Titan general conditions; there will be less construction administration costs from Hollis+Miller Architects; it will relieve over-crowding at Bradley Elementary School because all sixth-graders throughout the district will move to Patton; and there will be less of an impact on the district administration’s time.

Disadvantages to the two-year timeline include a higher construction bank loan total of more than $1 million in interest (if it is not paid off earlier than eight years); the construction loan total will be approximately $5 million higher because of one-less year of Impact Aid funding; and the current labor shortage in the Kansas City area might limit subcontractor competition.

No matter the fluctuation in bank loans and interest, the “All In” guaranteed maximum price for completion is $55 million.

Though the board approved the two-year timeline, Myron Griswold, board president, did request the addition of safety concerns with the current Patton and the operation of the current Patton for the additional year be added to the decision matrix for future discussions. It is expected that the two-year timeline will still be the best course of action with those additions.

For the two-year construction timeline, demolition of the former MacArthur Elementary School building is scheduled to begin April 2020, with an overall construction completion date of mid-July 2022. The completion date includes the moving in of all furniture and equipment, Burson said.

In addition to briefing board members, Keith Mispagel, superintendent of schools, said he briefed Garrison Commander Col. Harry Hung and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Antwone Jones about the projected courses of action during an earlier meeting, and they agreed to the two-year timeline.

The board will continue to receive updates at future board meetings.

Dome Theater
In 2007, Bradley Elementary School added an Educational Dome Theater. In 2012, the hardware and software components were updated from Spitz to SkySkan. Over the last seven years, the technology has required more frequent maintenance and upkeep. Therefore, Mispagel and Rich Holden, USD 207 chief financial officer, briefed the board with three possible courses of action during the Oct. 28 board meeting at the board office.

The courses of action included maintaining the current hardware, slowly replacing hardware and software components as needed, or upgrading the entire system all at once.

The board approved replacing the entire system during the November board meeting as recommended.

Advantages to the full system replacement include having state-of-the-art projection and animation in high definition quality, updated and current curriculum activities across all grade levels, and providing flexibility in diverse and additional curriculum programs across subjects and grade levels. Disadvantages include an upfront cost and learning how to use the updated system equipment and software.

With the board’s approval, work is scheduled to begin summer 2020, and training for the new system will also be scheduled.

Normandy Field bathroom upgrade
Though USD 207 built the bathroom facilities north of Normandy Field many years ago, the installation is in charge of maintaining them. Therefore, as part of that agreement, the bathrooms are locked each year beginning Nov. 1.

“It was not winterized,” Mispagel said. “But now there is a lot more traffic and use.”

Because of that, families and other residents often come to the district office to use the restroom, which are not considered public facilities.

“We’re a victim of our own success,” Holden said.

Therefore, Mispagel and Holden recommended that updates be done to the bathrooms, including adding insulation and updating the heating system, so that the bathrooms can be used all year.

The board approved the request, which will not exceed $45,000, and the facilities should be open by January 2020.

Semester credit
The school district will grant semester credit to transitioning families who depart after Dec. 5, 2019, or after May 8, 2020.

“That is two weeks before the last day of semester and two weeks before the last day of school,” Mispagel said. “It is really based on military orders.”

Licensure
Recently, Mispagel has had discussions with Kansas Rep. Jeff Pittman, Kansas Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers and his wife, Kris Rogers, about military spouse licensure in regard to teaching positions in the district. The goal is to expedite licenses in Kansas for military spouses who are licensed in other states, Mispagel said.

Mispagel will present a request to the state board of education in February.

“They are supportive of putting language in licensure that will expedite military spouses. So, if we are interested in hiring a military spouse that has a license in another state, I can call the licensure office, they’ll pull that out of the time, date stamped pile,” Mispagel said. “First in, first out. … I see that as a victory for many of our spouses.”

Additionally, Mispagel will brief Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly Dec. 19 to tell her about impact aid and how it works in Kansas.

“Currently, the state gets 70 percent of our impact aid and we get 30 percent. In 47 other states, school districts get 100 percent of the impact aid,” Mispagel said. “(Kelly has) asked to be briefed on what it looks like in Kansas, why it is that way, and what are some other options, so that is an opportunity that I’m pretty excited about.”

Mispagel said he will continue to update the board during upcoming meetings.

Principal’s report
During the meeting, MacArthur Principal Tyler Fowler updated the board about programs and other initiatives happening at the school.

The report included a performance by the Mustang Kickers dance team, a Site Council update by president Allison Fritz and programs that implement the “Learn. Lead. Achieve.” initiative.

Holiday closures
All district buildings will be closed Dec. 20-26. At that time, all lights will be shut off and the boilers will be lowered to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with the exception of MacArthur, which runs on a geothermal system.

“It is an energy-conservation opportunity,” Mispagel said. “We do the same in the summer.”

All board meetings are open to the public. For an overview of the meeting and the minutes, visit https://www.boarddocs.com/ks/usd207/Board.nsf/Public.

The next USD 207 board meeting is at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at the board office.

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