Although seven citizens were present for the public input concerning the future of Central School, none offered comment or questioned USD 409 Board of Education members about it.

At the close of the 15-minute session, Board President Carrie Sowers announced there would be no action at the special meeting Thursday, Feb. 18 in the facility, but board members plan to take action on two resolutions concerning the facility at their March meeting.

The first resolution under consideration centers on official closure of the school and the other centers on the possibility of selling the current Central School facility.

Superintendent Renee Scott in January proposed closing Central School for economic reasons due to needed maintenance and necessary upgrades to keep up with current educational standards. Her recommendation is to move the Central School Program into the Roosevelt Building located adjacent to the Atchison Middle School as early as the start of the 2021-2022 school year. AMS and the Roosevelt Building have two separate entrances from one another.

The district will petition the city of Atchison to for an address for the Roosevelt Building, Scott said, and added that Evergy had previously separated the addresses of the two buildings.

Central School Principal LaTisha Downing described the Central School Program. About 45 students ranging from elementary-aged to high-schoolers attend the program. There are eight certified teachers, qualified professionals and counselors meet the needs of students.

“Here or there the Central School students will remain a wonderful group,” Downing said. “It’s the people who make up the culture.”

The benefits to a relocation of the program would offer students’ abilities to go to a library, and some team sport participation.

Vice-president Diane Liebsch asked if the relocation would require a school name change.

Scott said the buildings are already named, but it is a matter that school board members could discuss.

Jay Robinson, 409 maintenance director, listed the needs of the facility. The list includes: tuck pointing to the exterior brick walls, especially above and around windows to stop and prevent interior wall damage; a rubberized roof replacement; replace old plumbing and piping and update restroom fixtures and stalls; replace original wiring and distribution panels with modern electrical standards; replace air conditioning units beyond expectancy; boiler issues; the kitchen is small and lacks equipment as well as inadequate plumbing to prepare school meals on-site; class room doors are an issue; no elevator to access second floor; no roof over the basement entrance and placement of the intercoms.

The building positives are: a roof to air conditioning unit helps circulate fresh air and controls odor within the building; ground level accessibility to the parking lot; asbestos removal from heating piping in tunnel areas is complete; and there have been window and camera upgrades within the past 15 years; and its downtown location.

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