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R-III School Board turns attention to no-tax bond issue for middle school

Posted on Monday, February 24, 2014 at 8:56 am

Patrick Flannigan, transportation bus driver for the Lincoln County R-III School District, led the meeting room in the Pledge of Allegiance during the February 18 meeting of The Troy R-III Board of Education meeting. Patrick served in the United States Air Force from 1972-1976 as an integrated avionics component specialist.

The board members approved the consent agenda.

Next on the agenda was an update on Proposition Keep Improving District Schools (Prop KIDS). Prop KIDS is a no tax increase bond issue that will be placed on the April 8 ballot, which will provide funding for the building of a second middle school in the Lincoln R-III School District. Community Relations Specialist, April Bryant, gave a presentation to the board covering Prop KIDS that she has been giving to schools throughout the district as well as to different groups throughout the community.

April’s presentation focused on the benefits a second middle school will provide to students in the district, the past uses of Troy Middle School and covered frequently asked questions by members of the community. The current building being used to house Troy Middle School was originally built in 1956 as Buchanan High School and served as such until Troy Buchanan High School was built in 1996. At this time Buchanan High School was renovated and repurposed as Troy Middle School. It has since seen many updates to allow for technology and the ever-growing student body. Today Troy Middle School is the largest middle school in the state with 1,487 students.

In 2005 a group of concerned citizens throughout the district joined forces to form a Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC). This group has worked with members of the community as well as board members and district employees to assess the needs of the Lincoln County R-III School District. In 2006 it was decided that elementary schools needed to be the main focus of the district and the district built William Cappel Elementary, the Ninth Grade Center and made renovations to Main Street Elementary. In 2008 continuing with the theme of elementary education the district renovated Hawk Point Elementary, built Cuivre Park Elementary and added security systems at Claude Brown and Troy Middle School. In 2010 it was decided to postpone the expansion of the Ninth Grade Center into a full high school in order to continue developing elementary schools and to focus on building a second middle school. In 2011 the operating tax was increased and in 2012 the Early Childhood Education Center was built and the Claude Brown building was repurposed as an elementary school. Now the full attention of the group is on the need for a second middle school as Troy Middle School grows even larger.

Troy Middle School has done an excellent job of serving middle school aged students for many years and unfortunately the student body will soon be spilling out of the building without the addition of a second middle school. When evaluating the needs of the district, both the LRPC and administrators used all of the resources available to them. One of the resources used was a national study performed by Patron Insight on what parents wanted for the students. The top three most important needs parents wanted for their students were: smaller class sizes, a nurturing environment and a strong relationship between students and teachers. Troy Middle School, unfortunately, is growing to be unable to handle these needs for students.

Logistically, programming and services are becoming limited as more room is used to house classes. Lunch has become a fine race against the clock as you can find anywhere between 350-400 students at a time in the cafeteria eating lunch from 10:10 a.m. to 1:26 p.m. There are also, 35 buses safely delivering 1,105 students to school at the beginning of the day and home at the end of the day.

Then of course there are the physical constraints of the building. Originally built in 1956, Troy Middle School has relatively narrow hallways considering the school population. There is also a lack of space in the gymnasium, band room, art room and in computer labs.

On a more personal level the Lincoln County R-III School District doesn’t want students to feel lost while attending the state’s largest middle school. They want to improve security and increase opportunity by lowering class sizes and increasing programs offered. They also want to gain student achievement as the success of any school should be measured on a student’s ability to succeed.

Bryant then talked about the property where the second middle school will be built if Prop KIDS passes in April. The property, located on Adelhardt Rd. adjacent to Crooked Creek Estates was purchased for $2,300 per acre and was purchased at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. If Prop KIDS, a no tax increase bond issue, passes at the April 8 polls there will be no operating tax increase. Boundaries have also been drawn and students currently attending Claude Brown Elementary, William Cappel Elementary and Lincoln Elementary will attend the second middle school. The district will also continue to keep making improvements as needed to Troy Middle School.

The announcement of the district’s summer school program was also made at Tuesday’s meeting. This year the district will hold a Math Academy for students needing to recover credits, looking to get a jump-start on their next year, or just wanting to keep their minds fresh. The program will run from June 3 through the 26 and students will be able to receive a seven-inch Droid tablet at no cost if they are able to attend class at least 90 percent of the time. This is a tiered incentive and students missing more than 90 percent of the required class time will receive pro-rated rates on tablets. The district is expecting 1,800-2,300 students to enroll in the summer school program. This year’s summer school program is going to run cost neutral for the district.

The next meeting of the Lincoln County R-III School District will be on Tuesday March, 18 beginning at 5 p.m. at the Lincoln County R-III Central Office, 951 W. College Troy.