MHS West Campus expansion project still over budget

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With some cuts made to the plan for the Manhattan High School West campus construction, the district is still over budget.
During the school board meeting Wednesday night, representatives from McCown Gordon and Gould Evans presented the cuts they made to the plan. Project Manager Whitney Lang first went over the things they were able to keep.  This included the elements in scope that would allow the ninth graders to be able to make their move to the campus, such as additional classrooms and parking.  Other additions include the auxiliary gym, turf for the practice field, and new tennis courts.
Most of the cuts came from more design cost saving elements. Lang says the original plan presented at a previous meeting had two practice fields; one larger one with turf and a smaller secondary one.  The second field will instead be grass, but will be graded in a way that it could be converted to turf.  This cut alone saved the district $600,000.
The new tennis courts will also now be at elevation with the practice field.  The tennis courts would have needed to be raised, using 72 dump trucks worth of dirt.
Lang says they were able to save around $60,000 by reducing the size of the auxiliary gym/storm shelter by about nine inches.
The other major cut was reducing the number of additional classrooms from 25 to 21, which would save around $800,000.  Board Member Jurdene Coleman asked if this was feasible due to the master plan originally having only 15.  Construction Representative Patricia Brooke-Freundt says they already trying to accommodate for six less classrooms, let alone 10.  She also says the idea is to try to give each teacher their own classroom.
Overall, the budget for the project is still over by around $1.5 million.  However, both Brooke-Freundt and Assistant Superintendent Eric Reid say they have some projects that are coming in under budget.  They hope to be able to use those leftover funds for this project.  They will also continue to look for cost saving cuts.
The board also discussed a deadline change to the district’s vaccination policy.
Currently, state law state that the school board can choose whether or not to exclude children who are not up to date on their immunizations. This does not include children who have exemptions . However, the policy seems to vary by school. School Nurses Mindi Sturm and Robin Mull would to have a set deadline for the immunizations due to parental confusion.
“The reasons we would encourage exclusion would be so that we have uniformity across the district,” says Mull, “The purpose is not meant to prevent students from coming to school, it is to keep everyone healthy and safe at school.”
Mull says studies have shown keeping up with immunizations save money for parents long term due to them not missing classes. Sturm says another reason to have the exclusion is because there are children who are not able to get vaccinations.
“We are actually starting to put a plan in place to help families get the resources they need to get immunizations,” says Sturm” We are currently working with the Riley County Health Department and originally our plan was to have them come to each school for a clinic, but they need money and grants for that.”
Sturm says they are now working with them for a program the health department used to have called walk in clinics.  The clinics would allow the children to go to the department, get their shot, and return to class all in the same day. The health department is working to revitalize this program.
They also gave the district free bus passes in case there are families who are not able to get their kids to the health department.

The new date has been set for December 2nd. The board has asked the two to come back with an action item to clear up the language in the current policy.

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