November 2021 School Board

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The South Sports Complex idea is going to be halted and the district will explore using the area behind Eudora Elementary instead, Superintendent Stu Moeckel said at a School Board meeting Thursday. 

He said part of the reason why the new sports fields are not going to be built is because the area they were planning to build on was not accessible.

“As you know, it’s farther out, there’s not great parking,” he said. “And my fear is we want an area where parents can feel like they’re able to drive out there, especially an elderly [person] or someone who is not able to walk that distance.” 

Moeckel said the district would want patrons’ approval before spending tax dollars to upgrade the area behind the elementary school to be able to host sports games and practices. It would only need some outdoor bathrooms and storage added, he said.

“That makes a lot more sense to me than spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a playing field that we already have a playing field for,” he said.

However, School Board member Eric Votaw said he has seen issues with parking at the elementary school for baseball games.

“People like to park at whatever is closest even though they’re not supposed to,” he said.

Moeckel said he has discussed opening up an access road that people would be able to park on when they attend the elementary school for sports games. 

“We are the ones as a school district who close that, so it’s not hard for us to unlock it and try that as well,” he said. 

Votaw also said he thinks the district should still consider investing in a new sports field or complex.

“I still love the idea of doing something over at the other complex, but frankly I think there’s opportunity to do something much bigger that would involve something that’s more advantageous to the school district,”  Votaw said. 

Moeckel said he thinks there are better uses of the money that would have to be spent on the project and using the area behind the elementary school is more of a half-measure than a solution. Votaw said he did not want there to be a half-measure because then it would never get done right. 

“I’d rather just drag our feet and find the right way to do it rather than just try to expedite and have something that we’re not going to be proud of,” Votaw said.

Moeckel said they are beginning to have conversations about getting the opinions of patrons on the idea first, and then they will move forward from there. 

The elementary school will also receive updates to its playground with additional inclusive equipment, School Board member Samantha Arrendondo said. The project will be paid for with a  Douglas County Community Foundation grant given to the Eudora Schools Foundation. 

“The hope is to have a couple of new pieces installed on a warm winter day,” Arrendondo said.

In other business, Moeckel said the district will plan on spending $200,000 to $250,000 per year toward financing new turf. The loan they will most likely go with would be for $1 million over five or six years with 2.5% interest, he said.

“Talking to our financial director, we feel very comfortable anywhere from $200,000 to $250,000 a year out of our capital outlay,” Moeckel said.

However, if the base of the turf needs work done on it as well, the cost could go up, so the district will also consider taking a larger loan of $1.25 million over six years. 

“While I’d love to tell you this is the cost of the turf, they’re not going to know until they peel that turf back,” he said.

Moeckel also said the district’s two goals for the year are to increase by 5% the number of students scoring a 3 and 4 on the Kansas State Assessment and increase their postsecondary success rate by 5%. 

Postsecondary success is defined by whether or not a student earned an industry recognized certification while in high school, a postsecondary certificate or degree, or enrolled in postsecondary in both the first and second year following graduation, Moeckel said. 

Moeckel said he thought the postsecondary success rate goal was crucial for their high school to address setting up their students for success after graduation.

Only 52% of Eudora high school graduates are considered to fit into the state’s criteria for “postsecondary success,” according to Moeckel’s report. 

“Right now, we’re only meeting 52% of our students as they go out, and we know that -- to be effective as a state -- we’re going to need more than that,” he said. “I do believe that more than 52% of our kids end up being successful, obviously, but how do we get credit for that?”

Moeckel said the postsecondary success rate fails to account for students who joined the armed forces or have success in other ways the rate does not measure. 

He said he wants the district to focus on helping students transition into adulthood and find their interests. 

“Nine times out of 10, if a student doesn’t have the success they thought they would at a postsecondary, it is because they may have picked the wrong direction,” Moeckel said. “We’ve identified some things we can do to help them over that edge and support them as they go off into that wide world.”

Moeckel said one of the main ways the district will try to get postsecondary success up is by identifying more career technical pathways for students to take.

During the meeting, the board also approved the purchase of 36 new iMac computers for the high school. Moeckel said they were supposed to do this two years ago.

“Our computers out there now have reached the end of their life,” Moeckel said. “Via COVID and the fact that desktop computers weren’t going home, it kind of put that on the back burner.” 

Moeckel suggested buying the new computers this month so students would have them by next semester. Some of the computers will be set up in the video production and photo labs, he said.

Moeckel said the old computers were not good enough to be given to other classrooms and will be recycled. 

Reach reporter Alyssa Wingo  at eudoratimes@gmail.com.

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