HOLCOMB, Kansas– After paying off their bond in September, the Holcomb School District is out of debt, making it the perfect time to look at making necessary improvements.
Four schools make up USD 363 and the school board feels all of them are lacking in two types of safety. First, protection from severe weather threats. At Wiley Elementary teachers and students go to the interior hallway during a storm or tornado, but each end of the hallway opens up to the outside and the doors are glass.
“It worries me as a parent that my kid’s just going to sit in a hallway,” said Kari Vanpelt, a mother with four kids in the school system. “I know we did it when we were younger, but I’d like to see something better.”
“We know those aren’t the safest places to be, but they’re the safest that we have available to us,” said Superintendent Jean Rush.
The solution? Building concrete storm shelters at each school, a couple million dollars for each building.
The other aspect of safety is security. Visitors have to buzz into all of the buildings, but once they’re inside the front door they’re out in the hallway. A possible remodel idea would put them directly in the office. It would take some significant, and expensive, changes, but so far the district has seen support from staff and parents.
“I think it’s very proactive,” said Wiley Elementary Principal Deana Novack, “and I think it’s always a good idea to re-look at all of your safety measures you have in place and to revisit them.”
“It doesn’t hurt to try to do better. I mean, with everything that’s going on in the world I feel like we could do a better job,” Novack said.
The changes won’t be cheap, but with no debt the district is looking to the general fund, or possibly bringing a new bond issue to a public vote. The committee will meet again at the end of the month to discuss the issue further.