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Richmond School Board plans more construction

The Richmond School board is in the planning stages to begin construction on a multi-purpose building at Dear Elementary.
Notified recently that they were a recipient of a SEMA sponsored grant to construct a multi-purpose structure on the Dear Elementary campus, Superintendent Jim Robins said, “The good news is that we have the grant; the bad news is we have to jump through all of the hoops.”
The federal grant gives the district 75 percent of the approximately $800,000 required to build the gymnasium-sized structure. The remaining 25 percent, or approximately $200,000, must come from the district. Robins is confident the district can do that without raising taxes.
The district plans to use Sam A. Winn and Associates, who was also over the current Dear construction phases.
“Mr. (Gary) Barbee got us started and was instrumental on this. They have one bond issue and one project they’re working on at this time, so they’ll have the time to do this too,’ said Robins.
Robins said he is “optimistic” about the project. “It will take about six months of planning and six months of building. We have up to 30 months to complete it. We also realize if there are disasters, our project goes on the back burner.”
Barber will attend the December 9 board meeting at the district office in Richmond.
In other business: Board Vice President Gwen Weate presented the Lex La-Ray Technical Center Combined Board Evening Report. She acknowledged one of the board goals is adult education and was pleased to report, “We can go through them and have someone teach at Richmond.” The board is considering this suggestion.
Robins reported on his trip to the McRel Conference. The conference included seven states. Robins was “interested in turn-around schools” (those that were doing poorly academically before to doing well now). He said there were many low-performing school in the Kansas City, Mo. area, but high performing schools in the Kansas City, Kan. area. “The difference is the safe, secure and supportive school environment and parental involvement.”
“The cameras, security and surveillance are part of what we have to look at now. There were three pieces on Monday night’s news regarding school safety and climate. We live in a different age,” Robins added. Julie Stevenson, curriculum director, addressed the issue of whether to change the block schedule at the high school.
“We have seen gains with changing the block schedule and a slight decrease in the communication arts area. I think we should look to the high school teachers. They said we made some gains and saw results.”
Stevenson called other districts on this subject and said, “If they have a good teacher, they’ll teach well three days or five days a week. They’re seeing excellent results in math, even with the block scheduling.” She added, “Student achievement at the high school is not a huge concern for our committee. They’re doing well.”
Board member Brad Richey asked, “With our communication arts and math scores doing well this year, do we want to mess with it (block scheduling)?” The discussion on block scheduling ended at that point.

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