June 17th, 2019

school board dan fickSunflower Elementary School teacher Dan Fick accepts his Teacher of the Month award from Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rozelle Webb during the most recent meeting of the USD 480 school board Monday night. Fick’s work in the classroom was praised by Sunflower Principal Jon Schneider, and Fick said he was honored to be named Teacher of the Month. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


South Middle School may soon be a step closer to being in new hands after discussions by the USD 480 school board Monday evening. 

Potential future uses for the building have long been discussed, including most recently at the board’s Dec. 10 meeting, which proposed an agreement to use the building as a new recreation center. 

“Before you is a motion to approve the donation or sale of South Middle School to the City of Liberal contingent upon including a private easement for USD 480 fiber cable,” USD 480 Superintendent Renae Hickert said. “I’ve also been asked to find out some information about some land west of the high school, which has been talked about briefly before and I would like to bring that up again in the future if it’s something we could do.”

“I’d like to see us collaborate with the city on this project,” board member Nick Hatcher said. “There’s certainly been a change in leadership at the city level and I feel like they’ve come with their best foot forward trying to do the right thing here. But I do have reservations about just giving the South Middle School building away for nothing in return. As we all know, in acquiring the property for some of these new schools took a lot of effort and work to figure out where they needed to built with the land that was available. MacArthur, looking back now, maybe that site wasn’t the best place to tear down and put up a new school, but the community did want those neighborhood schools. Looking at what Seymour Rogers and Prairie View have done down there and how that all looks, I think that would have been a much better campus for both schools. With the high school, with the property we have there, it’s a nice piece of property and there is a drainage ditch there that flows through almost the center of the property. We’ve got a discus ring that’s not ours that’s on airport property, we’ve got a parking lot on the west side of the building we’re utilizing. We’re in need of additional ... I hope we look at some point into either building or acquiring a new bus barn.”

Hatcher then continued talking about some other concerns and questions he had. 

“One of the things I was attempting to work on was before the sale of that airport property to the Walmart Neighborhood Market was possibly exchanging that or acquiring that property and putting a new baseball and softball complex closer to the high school so they weren’t having to drive all the way across town, and there’s all sorts of safety and liability issues that could come with that,” Hatcher said. “I believe there are some vacant properties west of the high school and properties in other locations, I feel like it would be in our best interest to make a sale or trade of some type. I’m not sure what that mechanism would be, but I think it would be in USD 480’s best interest to do everything possible to acquire all the property we can in that area because I feel like it would enhance the future expansion we’d possibly see in the future. I have a hard time supporting the sale or donation of South Middle School to the city unless we get something in return.”

Another big item on the board’s agenda was hearing an update on the keyless entry project from Convirgent representative Shawn Murphy. 

“I’ve been working on this project for the district since just after the awarding of the budgetary number and I’ve been working with Chad [Mease] and his team ever since,” Murphy said. “We recently finished the Liberal High School installation and we are well under way at Cottonwood Elementary, I would say we’re more than halfway done there. As far as looking into the future, we’re in a very different environment than it was the first time we walked into the high school. It’s really a two-way educational process – we need to learn how to do business with all of you, and you all have to learn about everything in regard to a mass rollout of a control platform like this. That was an amazing learning process. We also had a large technological advancement and the way that all merged went awesome. In that environment now, it’s a well-oiled machine – we’ve been able to identify opportunities to divvy up tasks and create a separation of duties that’s conducive to moving projects along at a much quicker pace, which is not something to be overlooked.”

Overall, Murphy continued, all the projects are moving at a great pace and the installation crews are not foreseeing any issues at this time.

“We’re in the process of engineering the rest of the school designs,” Murphy said. “As you all know, when we came originally with a budgetary proposal, we had one direction we were moving in and we’re moving in several different iterations of a direction differently now. But with everyone speaking the same language, we are targeting a complete engineer design, which means proposals and everything associated with that by the end of March and we’re talking full procurement by May. That’ll help us solidify getting our projects done on time.”

Murphy then took a couple quick questions from members of the school board before concluding his presentation. In other business, the board also heard information about the replacement of security cameras around the district and approved discovery center items for all the kindergarten classrooms throughout USD 480. 

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