Archive for Thursday, January 11, 2001

School board rejects city’s proposal for joint recreation commission

January 11, 2001

The DeSoto school board has rejected a suggestion that it jointly form a recreation commission with the city of DeSoto.

Members of the DeSoto Parks and Recreation Board suggested a joint recreation commission such as what exists between the city of Spring Hill and the Spring Hill School District as a way to offer more recreational opportunities in the community.

When the board first discussed the creation of a joint recreation commission last month, Deputy Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said state statute allows the formation of recreation commissions. She said cities can form them on their own or they can be created jointly with local school districts.

Recreation commissions have the authority to levy up to 1 mill of property taxes, Zoellner said. That authority can be enhanced another 4 mills under certain conditions. All recreation commission districts must be approved through a referendum in the largest proposed jurisdiction.

Zoellner presented the board with a list of concerns during the December discussion. Chief among them was the fact that the DeSoto school district includes all of DeSoto, parts of three other cities and unincorporated areas. District patrons living in Lenexa or Shawnee might view a recreation commission district as a move to get their tax dollars to enhance recreation opportunities in DeSoto, she said.

Last Wednesday, the board decided a recreation district was feasible in a district as diverse as DeSoto.

"You can say so and so does it, but we have a different situation," said Board President Jim Plummer.

Although the board decided against the joint recreation commission, district staff would be encouraged to work with the city to development and support recreational programs and activities, board members agreed.

The same night the board decided not to pursue a joint recreation commission, it agreed to schedule a joint meeting with the school board concerning building an indoor/outdoor swimming pool complex at DeSoto High School. That meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 30 at Lexington Trails Middle School.

The pool committee developed the recommendation that the city and school district join in building the indoor/outdoor pool after considering ways to improve or replace the pool in Miller Park. The recreation commission hopes to construct the pool with the help of federal grants, and it is thought a cooperative effort between the city and district will improve the project's chances of receiving grant revenue.

Superintendent Marilyn Layman said it was appropriate for the district to investigate the joint pool proposal because it was offering the same opportunity to the city of Shawnee. In fact, the district and Shawnee officials have had early discussions about a swimming facility at Mill Valley High School, she said.

Shawnee voters approved a sales tax measure last November that would help fund such a facility, Layman said.

In other business, the board:

Agreed to name a task force charged with examining the boundaries of the district's middle schools and high schools. In December, DeSoto High School Principal Debbie Lynn recommended such a task force be created to prevent lopsided enrollment on the east side, which would in turn create unequal educational opportunities.

Instructed district technology director Doug Weis to investigate what would be needed if the district chose to become an Internet service provider. However, the board agreed news that other companies offer local dial-up access in DeSoto removes the urgency of the study.

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