• This article is the third of a six part series that will be published as we begin the 2018-2019 school year.  The focus of these articles will be our fiscal, infrastructure, and facility accomplishments, as well as our current status and future challenges.  The first article (part 1) focused on our financial history over the past three years and the concept of financial rightsizing;  the second article focused on changes in Career and Technical Education. This article will focus on the condition of our Technical Center and Agriculture facilities.  Future articles will include: Part 4 (the educational benefit of moving our Technical Center to Buffalo); Part 5 (educational facility funding and comparisons to other districts in our former and current conferences); Part 6 (our financial challenges and our district’s story).

    The Dallas County Technical Center in Louisburg consists of three buildings.  For purposes of this article we will refer to them as the main or central building, the North building, and the South building.  

    The main building was built somewhere around seventy-five years ago.  This building was formerly the Louisburg School.  This building currently houses the school office, a conference room, the student break room, Health Science 1 and 2 classrooms and health lab, Computer Information Systems classroom, Graphic Arts classroom and labs, and the teacher prep classroom.  There are multiple structural and systems issues within this main building.  The most concerning issue is the foundation, and how it has been shifting in multiple areas.  This is most evident in the front (East side) of the building.  In this area, the east exterior wall and foundation are migrating to the East.  This movement has created a significant crack in the floor that grows more each year, a crack in the exterior wall, and has caused the primary North-South Hallway to sag near the center of the building. The foundation and wall are currently structurally stable and safe, but it is an issue that we are having our architect and engineer monitor.  Second, the HVAC system in this building is functional, but 85% of the system needs to be replaced soon.  The third facility issue is the plumbing and septic system, and it is also due for complete replacement.  Finally, the interior walls in many areas of this building are plaster over block construction.  The plaster used at the time the building was constructed used asbestos in the plaster mix.  This makes any renovation extremely difficult and prohibitively expensive.  This main building remains safe for our students and staff, but we have reached a point where maintenance alone cannot make this building viable for more than five years into the future.

    The North building was built around fifty years ago.  This building contains our welding, collision repair, and automotive technology programs.  The main issue in this building is also the foundation.  The shift in this building is not nearly as noticeable, but it does make closing doors difficult; however, the problem is significant enough to be concerning.   The sewage system is tied into the main building.

    The finally, the South building in fair condition.  It houses our Criminal Justice classroom and lab.  This building is the smallest of the three but does need an HVAC system replacement.

    Finally, our current Agriculture facility was built over eighty years ago.  This building houses all of our high school agriculture programs.  Restroom, plumbing, and HVAC issues plague this building.  In addition, the shop space is inadequate for the needs of our student projects and does not have the necessary facilities to meet the curriculum needs.  This building has been added on and adjusted multiple times over the past eight decades and needs to be replaced. 

    All these facility issues make the cost to fix and repair the building(s) at our current Louisburg location overwhelming. This cost would be in the multiple millions of dollars.  It is for these reasons that we will more than likely be unable to keep this facility open in the Louisburg location for more than five years.  In that time period it is more likely than not the structure or a mechanical system will fail and force closure of the location. We are at a point where it makes educational and financial sense for our district and for our 7 sending high schools to relocate the Dallas County Technical Center to Buffalo on our High School campus.  Our current agricultural facility has reached its end of life, and it would much better for students to include these classrooms and shop space in a new technical center.  Career and technical programs are extremely important to the students of Dallas County and each of our seven sending schools. The programs these facilities house are the backbone of our economy in Southwest Missouri and we have to view them with the highest level of importance.  These facility concerns are not being ignored and must be a priority for our district and our community to replace.

    Over the next month or two I will be writing several more articles in this series.  The future articles will include:  Part 4 (the educational benefit of moving our Technical Center to Buffalo); Part 5 (educational facility funding and comparisons to other districts in our former and current conferences); Part 6 (our financial challenges and our district’s story).  If you have missed any of these articles they can all be found at www.bisonpride.org under the “About Us” tab.

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    Tim Ryan, Ed.D.
    Superintendent of Schools
    Dallas County R-I School District