North Callaway considers facility improvements

District looks at agro/science building, maintenance facility, phone system upgrades for potential bond issue

In preparation for a November bond issue, the North Callaway Board of Education heard developments on facilities planning from The Architects Alliance, a Central Missouri architectural firm aiding the district.

Architects Alliance representatives Leslie Backstron and Cary Gampher first showed the board a design of an annex that would house agriculture and science classrooms.

The building would be toward the front of the current high school and measure 140 feet long and 50 feet wide. Two science labs would be included with two larger agriculture classrooms and a greenhouse attached. Because of North Callaway’s reputation for its agricultural programs, Gampher said having agriculture and science in one space is ideal.

Biology and chemistry classes would most likely be conducted in the building.

“I think for this school district it makes perfect sense,” Gampher said.

Gampher added that a designated room could be hardened and used as a storm shelter.

The price tag is potentially an incentive for the district to move forward with an agro-science building. Superintendent Bryan Thomsen said a combination space is $863,000 cheaper than separating the subjects.

North Callaway could also cut costs by fusing a bus barn and maintenance office. Together the total cost would be $360,000 and separately it would be $554,000. Thomsen the bus barn maintenance building would be more convenient and efficient for employees.

Rob Barnes, an information technology contractor with Kingdom Technology, assembled a technology wish list for the board and presented it at Monday’s meeting. He said the district may want to update its core server as it is the “foundation” of the rest of the district’s technology.

The district may also want to look into utilizing tablets in the classroom, Barnes said, as one-to-one computing programs become more popular in education. He said the staff will need to come to an agreement on how the tablet can be used best in the classrooms before selecting a tablet brand.

Barnes also suggested a phone system overhaul so calls in the entire district can be more streamlined. This means an employee could dial an extension instead of a seven-digit number.

The total cost for his wish list came to more than $700,000, but with input from the board Barnes said he was confident he could decrease the number to less than $500,000. He added that purchasing “good, used” equipment with sufficient life expectancy can help the district save funds as well as establishing various stages of technology deployment over a certain amount of time.

Thomsen said the board anticipates finalizing a bond issue list by August.

The board also approved a high bid from Callaway Propane for the upcoming school year.

Normally, 60,000 gallons of propane are used between Williamsburg Elementary School and North Callaway High School, but because of this past harsh winter, the high school used 67,000 gallons of propane.

This means the district paid about $13,000 more to use Callaway Propane instead of Ferrell Gas, which was the low bid.

Despite the low bid from Ferrell Gas, the board chose Callaway Propane because of its customer service reputation and the fact that it is a local business.

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