U235: There is a Need For Upgrades

Vance Eden. From the district’s online staff directory.

There is a need to upgrade some infrastructure in Uniontown’s School District, Vance Eden, associate superintendent, told a recent Community Connections Panel in Fort Scott. A bond issue is being looked at for the district possibly this year.

USD 235 has 480 students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and serves five small communities in the western rural part of Bourbon County.

If a bond is brought to the community for a vote, we would anticipate that happening in late summer or early fall, but that will be dependent on a variety of factors,” Eden said.
The U235 District bond issue would be for upgrading pre-school,  a tornado safe room, an updated fire system, security upgrades, and a hydronic lab.
The board is also looking at a grant to upgrade the walking trail that is around the school district property, which is also used by the community.
The following is an interview with Eden:
What is the need with the preschool building?
“Our current modular pre-kindergarten structure is at a point of deterioration that it no longer makes financial sense to invest funds into it.  Additionally, safety and security would be increased by having a structure that is attached to West Bourbon Elementary.  One other layer of consideration is that Kansas State Department of Education  has expanded its funding stream to include three-year-old students.  With this is mind, it makes sense that we consider adding programming for these students as well.  There is still much to consider and many factors at play, but we recognize some significant needs related to pre-school programming.”
What is the need for a saferoom?
Our current facilities do not have tornado safe rooms.  Sheltering in interior classrooms and /or in locker rooms is clearly more safe than some other spaces.  However, it is now widely recognized that a purpose-built facility is really the only option for ensuring maximum safety.  These spaces would be designed for regular use as classrooms and/or multipurpose rooms to maximize the return of our investment.  Additionally, the district has the ability to apply for FEMA Grant funds to potentially help offset some of the cost associated.”
What is the need for updated fire alarm system?
While up to code, the current JH/HS fire alarm is in need of updating.  In its current configuration it most broadly relies on pull stations near exits that then sound an audible alarm with flashing strobes.  We would like to upgrade to a system that also includes smoke detectors and automatically communicates with emergency services.”
What is the need for security updates?
“It is important that we are always considering student safety as a top priority.  There are some needs and opportunities for improvement have been identified, but it is critical that I’m careful as to not share our security vulnerabilities with those who may have malicious intent.  These have been identified through professional assessments, our administrative team, and the bond advisory council.”
What is the hydronic lab idea?
Instead of using a greenhouse, the district is pursuing a “container farm” as a means of providing hands on learning opportunities to students across a variety of programs in addition to providing some produce for our food service programs.  We have done a tour and had some initial conversations with Leafy Green Farms of Pittsburg who has these containers.  Leafy Green Farms is currently working with Pittsburg High School and several other Southeast Kansas schools to facilitate such a program.”
Also you are looking for grants to update the walking trail around the school?
“The district is waiting to hear back on a response from a Recreation Trail Program (RTP) Grant that had been applied for.  We are hoping to get a response any day.  Once we get word one way or the other, we will share that information.  We recognize that this is a project that many are interested in.”

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