What’s Going on at School
Enrollment this year is 252. Last year was 247 and the year before 246.
We are finished with most of our summer projects: The technology update is all but completed. This included complete new wiring throughout all the buildings, which has greatly improved bandwidth delivery, reducing log online time and improving stay online time. Included in this project was a new server, replacing our 20+ year old one, and a new phone system, which was also antiquated. The final portion is a camera update, which we are installing in phases based on matching grant availability. After the latest install, we will have 2/3 of the camera system updated. A good portion of this entire technology endeavor was funded with the assistance of grant money. Our laundry room has been re-configured to also be a handicap accessible bathroom. It will still also serve as a laundry/shower room. HVAC project is complete and working well. Windows project is still in progress and will take a couple more weeks. Also we bought 40 new laptops for all of our Seniors and Juniors, with a Sophomore and Freshman laptop phase in soon. A good portion of the laptops were also purchased with grant money.
Next on the list is a new track. It is in serious need of replacement to the point that we must consider not hosting track meets within the next year or two at most. The foundation is crumbled, which means a complete rebuild is necessary. That will run in the $500,000 range should we choose to pursue that. Also on the list is a new activity bus. Our local bus mechanic and transportation director recommend replacing within a year. Good used buses run in the $200,000 range. For consideration is a new fitness facility. The current one is vastly undersized and deteriorating. The size also considerably limits participation and program development. A cutting-edge physical development program is essential in many aspects of creating an environment capable of producing excellence. The press box and concession stand at the track are aging and will need some attention before long, as well as some smaller scale updates and remodels around our campus. Finally, at some point in time the junior high wing is going to need to be replaced or downsize into one building.
District Clerk Emily Evans has done an excellent job of streamlining our expenses philosophy, resulting in a positive year-end balance sheet of around $150,000+ per year for the last three years, much of which has been utilized in our just completed projects. State funding has recently increased from congressional legislation. A State Supreme Court decision has ensured this level of funding should continue for a few years. A significant portion of this additional funding will be funneled to staff salary increases, allowing us to become more competitive pursuing high quality teachers. The quantity of college students majoring in education has dropped drastically in the last ten years as educational salary raises did not keep pace with the consumer price index. Keep in mind we have accumulated $400,000 in debt with two five year notes with our HVAC Windows implementation.
Hopefully continued adequate funding will allow us to address some of our needs but as you run the math, you can figure out we must become creative if we are going to continue to improve. We have several local parents who are becoming very active in the pursuit of grants. In a future article I will describe what another small town in our situation in Northwest Kansas has done with their local foundations to address their needs. We are incorporating some government agencies designed to develop and assist communities based on certain criteria. Some neighboring school districts receive additional revenue because of wind turbines located in their district. We are working with the Ford County Commission and pursuing future possibilities based on information of current ongoing possible windmill projects.
The goal set by our Bucklin faculty is “To be the best small school in the State.” We are fully committed to that, including the extra’s that entails. Now, It takes a village… Feel free to contact or swing by the office to chat or share ideas and thoughts.