PITTSBURG — Business and property owners, city, school board, parents and faculty were all represented at the first advisory committee meeting on Wednesday at the Pittsburg school district’s staff development center.
The 21-person committee had representation from the Vote No group which opposed the failed $67.6 million bond in January as well.
“If you don’t like something we want to hear it,” said Superintendent of Schools Destry Brown. “If you like something, we want to hear it.”
The two-hour conversation was a discussion on items proposed by the school board and is intended to help the district narrow down projects for a potential bond.
The board used feedback from the failed January bond to cut out demolition of the 1920s section of the middle school and an additional performing arts center at the high school.
Dropping the projects helped the district get projects within the desired range of $30 million to $40 million.
“We would like to get down to the $30 million range … with everything we showed tonight, we are at $41 million,” Brown said.
The biggest hiccup at the meeting is where fifth graders will be housed to free up overcrowding in the elementary schools.
The board will either decide to house students at the middle school with preliminary estimates for renovations costing $11.5 million or an additional $5 million to renovate or add space at the elementary schools.
“I think we are going to have to get down to brass tacks with that (at the May) 23" school board meeting, Brown said.
Mark Fern is a committee member representing parents. Fern said he supported the old deal and would support a “$90 million” bond if it benefitted the community.
But, he had a problem with changing the location of the fifth graders back to elementary schools, after trying to sell the idea of moving students to the middle school during the last bond.
“If we don’t want to fail again,” Fern said “we need to explain why an idea that was so good before, is no longer good.”
At the end of the meeting, a committee member asked if others were willing to increase to two meeting a month to meet a potential November bond deadline.
“I’d rather it be right than hurried,” Brown said.
Other projects put forth by the board include adding an estimated $5 million for a second gymnasium at the middle school, renovating and adding a total of eight science classrooms at the high school and an estimated $6.5 million for heating and air condtioning improvements at Pittsburg High School.
The school board meets again on May 23. Brown said the board will have better ideas on prices to narrow down projects for the vision committee's next meeting at 6 p.m. on June 20.
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.