The Manhattan-Ogden school district could see its enrollment increase by 400 students within the next five years.
On Wednesday night, BG Consultants told USD 383 board members a seven-percent increase over the next four years is a conservative estimate of what the future holds over the next twenty years. USD 383 administrators plan to follow the 2037 Master Plan as Manhattan experiences its next boom.
The district hired BG Consultants last fall to execute a long-range facilities plan. An online survey distributed by the architecture firm elicited 1,700 responses, while site council meetings and community forums gave consultants enough feedback to return to the table. Respondents to the survey voiced educational needs along their facilities input.
“There’s a lot of consensus that early childhood programming does have significant merit,” said Clint Hibbs, architect. Hibbs said responses also indicated special education and low student-to-teacher ratios remain high priorities among local parents.
BG Consultants predicts Manhattan’s elementary schools to reach full capacity within the next ten years. Hibbs told board members that sixth graders could be relocated to the middle schools to buy more time before more buildings are needed.
The district could also consolidate Manhattan High School into the west campus, a building that could hold 1,600 students. Hibbs said MHS could not hold all four grade levels today without an expansion.
BG Consultants said 61% of those surveyed said the district should begin finding land to build another elementary school. Hibbs said Blue Township would be a prime candidate for an elementary school, but options could also be explored on the west side of town.
Finalizing the 2018 budget may come down to the wire this summer. Lew Faust, director of business services, said a new education funding bill has left the House K-12 Education Budget Committee without approval.
Under the proposed bill, base aid per pupil will increase to $4,006 in 2017-2018. While Faust said the bill is not popular in Topeka, it would fund all day kindergarten and funnel more money toward special education.
“I’m editorializing here, but it’s a common opinion this is very likely to get bounced by the supreme court,” Faust said.
Lawmakers are tasked with balancing the state’s $900 million budget deficit with the March court ruling charging them to adequately finance state school districts. Faust said lawmakers plan to debate the bill through the weekend and are potentially striving to take a vote before Memorial Day to prevent an extended session.
In new business, board members approved a five-cent increase to breakfast prices, and ten-cent increase to lunch prices. The increase comes at the mandate of the federal government.
The board gave final approval to the purchase of network switches from Cisco Equipment from Alexander Open Systems of Kansas City, Missouri, in the amount of $113,095. Other purchases which were approved include computer desktop equipment purchases from Ace Computers of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, in the amount of $13,639, teacher laptops from Riverside Technology, Inc. of South Sioux City, South Dakota, in the amount of $5,670, student laptops from Insight, Inc. of Tempe, Arizona in the amount of $6,285, and for the purchase of iPads with AppleCare plus Bretford PowerSync Carts from Apple, Inc., of Cupertino, Calif., in the amount of $25,839, totaling $51,433.
Board member Aaron Estabrook also announced he is not seeking reelection for board of education this November. Estabrook said he plans to advocate for education in other ways.
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