Larger gyms pitched
De Soto USD 232 Board of Education members may focus on more gymnasium and weight room space, but they won't need to expand Riverview Elementary.
"I'm going to save you a lot of money," Principal Cathy Grube told board members Monday in the latest of their sessions devoted to put together a bond referendum question for November. "I am going to recommend we don't build an addition to Riverview."
Administrators made a case to board members at Monday's meeting for ideas to be included in the next bond issue, which will expand De Soto High School to 1,000 students and Mill Valley High School to as many as 1,250 students. Grube said that although space will be tight at Riverview, the school would be able to survive one more year until the new elementary school at 71st Street was completed and boundaries were changed.
De Soto High School Principal Dave Morford and Mill Valley Principal Joe Novak urged board members to consider more space for gymnasiums and weight rooms.
Morford said the lack of gym space at De Soto High School hurt the district's ability to offer regional tournaments, which could bring tourism revenue to the community.
"We're missing the boat on being able to offer tournaments," he said. "It means you get people coming into the community and spending dollars and being exposed to our schools."
Morford said the high school was running out of space for graduation and other events as well.
"Because of the lack of a large auditorium, we're holding concerts in the gym," he said.
"At Mill Valley High School, if there's an all-school assembly, they can't get all the students in the gym. At DHS, we can't get everybody (in the student body) on one side of the gym, and we're at half-size right now."
Morford said giving the community more space at DHS might help "sell" the bond referendum to voters.
"I don't want us not to be able to pass a bond issue because we don't include the things that we need," he said.
Morford used Friday night's Queen of Winter Sports game as an example.
"Our crowd was full," he said. "You'll see more of that as we grow."
Morford added that without an auxiliary gym, there was no space at DHS to offer cardiovascular exercise programs under the Kansas wellness initiative. The high school principal said game times begin later and sports practices were pushed into early morning or late evenings because of shared space.
"We're not getting kids home until 8 or 9 at night because of lack of space," he said.
"We use middle schools for leagues, but we can't do that until 5:30 p.m. at LTMS because the middle school team has practice," he said.
At Mill Valley, Novak said the school could begin limiting graduation attendance this year because of lack of space.
"In the 16 years I've been here, we've never had to limit graduation," he said. "Last year, we asked seniors to limit it to 12. This year, we're seriously looking at limits and passing out tickets."
Novak said even Tuesday night high school games were becoming popular events with elementary school age parents. The district expects those numbers to increase.
"We had a kids' wrestling tournament last weekend," he said. "There were 700 mini-wrestlers at the Mill Valley gym and it was bursting at the seams. Parents couldn't come in and watch even with all the seating out."
Board member Don Clark said he would support more gymnasium space.
"I have been a part of several memorial tournaments," he said. "It's important to talk about our lack of being able to host those types of venues and having a larger gymnasium from a community-use standpoint."
Board member Randy Johnson said he also supported auxiliary gyms.
"We've been to a lot of tournaments where it's so nice to have two gyms," he said. "At Spring Hill, there had to be 1,000 people there every night of the tournament. That revenue goes to the community and to the school. We miss out on it every time."
Board members also heard about increasing the size of the band room at Monticello Trails Middle School. Board members will make a final decision about what to include in the bond issue at the Feb. 21 meeting.