November 1, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 28

School facilities, farewells top Cheney School Board

The Cheney School Board hosted leaders from district schools and the cities of Cheney and Airway Heights at a roundtable discussion Oct. 24.

Becky Thomas
West Plains and Cheney School District leaders met Wednesday, Oct. 24 to discuss facility challenges at the high school as well as other district programs.

The meeting’s top issue was facility constraints at Cheney High School. Principal Troy Heuett named three main needs for the building: more classroom space—as evidenced by new portable classrooms outside the building, a larger cafeteria—as evidenced by long lunch lines and students eating in the halls, and a performing arts center—to give musicians and actors a proper place to perform.

The discussion centered mainly around the needs and not possible solutions. One CHS food service worker said the kitchen was lacking in size and equipment to serve the school’s 1,200 students.

“Our kitchen is falling apart,” she said. “We just lost our steamer.”

One meeting attendee asked how a future project would be funded. District maintenance and operations director Jeff McClure said that excess funds from the most recent capital bond, which paid for two new middle schools and an elementary school, would go toward high school improvements. He estimated about $1.5 million would be available.

The district has formed a group to consider possible solutions to the high school’s facility needs. The group, called the CHS Instructional Design Team, will visit local high schools that were recently remodeled and work with NAC Architecture on design.

Other tables were set up for discussion of the district’s obesity prevention program, new K-5 world languages program and the Sunset school-based health center.

Following the discussion, the school board met for its regular meeting. It was the final meeting for five-year board member and past board president Larry Haskell, who was moving out of the district.

Haskell’s fellow board members thanked him for his dedication and leadership during his time on the board. They said several board members were anxious about him joining the board in 2007. He ran against the board president and won the seat to represent District No. 3.

“Nobody really knew you,” Rick Mount said. “But you’ve proven yourself to be a great leader on the board and a great advocate for our kids. You’re also a good friend.”

Haskell thanked the board for accepting and working with him over the years. He said he valued all the things he learned about school district governance.

“You get an education sitting on this board,” he said. “I wish everyone had a chance to do this.”

The board made a donation to InvestEd, which helps low-income students pay for activity fees and more, in Haskell’s honor.

The board heard an update on enrollment in the district. October saw an increase of 12 full time equivalent students to a total of 3,930. That’s 68 more than October 2011 and 23.8 on average over the budgeted enrollment of 3,900.

The board next meets Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. at Salnave Elementary School.

Becky Thomas can be reached at becky@cheneyfreepress.com.

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