Union School District

Resident in the Union R-XI School District will have a chance to discuss possible expansions to the district’s facilities with administrators and board members at a public forum.

The event is set to be held in Central Elementary’s cafeteria Tuesday, Aug. 29.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold said before moving forward with any solutions to the district’s overcrowding problems, the school board and his administrative team needs input from the community.

“We want to explain (our situation) and build a background of where we’re at now and find out what the perception is from the public and what the needs of the community are,” Weinhold said.

The discussion comes after years of debate on how to best permanently address overcrowding at Central Elementary, where kindergarten students currently are taught in modular units outside of the school building.

In 2015, the school board agreed to a short-term solution by leasing two modular classrooms currently placed adjacent to Central Elementary. This gave some immediate relief to the overcrowding that was causing teachers to teach class in whatever free space was available at the school, including hallways. The district has a large population bubble that started as early as 2014.

At the same time the board also approved a three-phase plan that aimed to address the overcrowding in the long term.

Assstant Superintendent Mike Mabe said while the district has eliminated some options, gaining insight from the community will give a better perspective on what is best for Union, moving forward.

“We’ve done some work internally with our faculty and district personnel, but we also want to let the stakeholders in the community know what we think as well and see if there are similarities,” Mabe said.

At a facilities meeting in June, board members and administrators discussed several different facility options for the district that could lessen the impact or lighten student population bubbles in the district.

The options include building a new elementary school on the east side of town, building a storage warehouse (freeing up space in school buildings), reorganizing grades, building an early education building and possibly expanding Union Middle School.

At a meeting in May, Weinhold discussed the current budget, boundary lines, bus routes and provided renderings of what some of those options would look like. He said the district is considering a $12 million no-tax increase bond issue in 2018 and/or a $15 million in 2019, a decision that should be made before the end of the calendar year.

Weinhold said he looks forward to hearing from the community and noted that without outside input it would be hard to understand the needs of the community.

“We’re going to try to get some community members involved and we’re going to want to talk about our facts and perceptions about whats going on with our facilities,” Weinhold said.

He added that similar meetings will be held in the future after some goals are set at the meeting in late August.