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USD 407 BOE Considers Building New School

USD 407 BOEAt its Thursday special meeting, the USD 407 Board of Education continued discussion on facilities planning and began exploring the possibility of building a brand new Kindergarten through Eighth Grade school facility in Russell to replace Simpson and Bickerdyke Elementary Schools and Ruppenthal Middle School.

Board Member Jim Cross made the motion to Superintendent Dave Couch.

"I would so move that we keep the facilities that we have open, make the necessary repairs to keep them functional for education, and have you (Couch) look at what the cost would be to put a K-8 facility at the high school campus, figuring in four classrooms per grade with gymnasium and auditorium," said Cross.

Superintendent Couch said operating costs and use of rooms is definitely important to consider in making these decisions, but curriculum and options Russell schools can offer students should be of more importance. He believes, and the board agreed Thursday, that by possibly shutting down some of the district's older buildings, more money could be given to teachers and student development instead of operating costs.

"We not only have to look at the physical alignment of things, we also have to look at what's going to happen as far as curriculum variance - what impact that's going to have on curriculum. To me, that's the main thing we should be looking at - how are we going to impact curriculum and learning, rather than who we are going to fit where," Couch said.

After the motion was approved, the Board's decision was to have Couch reach out to architects and begin researching how much it would actually cost to build the facility. An update will be given at the Board's next regular meeting.

Also discussed at the meeting Thursday was the upcoming Russell High School FFA trip to Scotland. Fundraising was addressed and the Board received clarification on who is and who is not planning on participating in the trip. Board consensus was to have a majority of the fundraising efforts be privately based through donations and the FFA Alumni Association. 

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