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Vote ‘Yes’ on Riley bond issue

Jenneen LeMay

By A Contributor

Raydon Robel was correct in his June 2 column when he stated, “Those of us associated with Riley County schools have always thought we were a place of quality,” and that “… students deserve better.” As a teacher, alum and middle school parent, I’ve always believed this to be true. Unfortunately, Mr. Robel did not have accurate information to enable him to assess problems with the district’s buildings. 

Let’s start with the grade school. The building is overcrowded, but the classrooms are not. Riley County prides itself on low student/teacher ratios.  Only one classroom this year was over capacity, and there was an aide in that room. 

Regarding the library, it was divided this past year. Part of it became a computer lab for K-6, as well as a classroom for a fourth section of sixth grade in reading and math. If the bond passes, the computer lab/classroom that middle school students use (not K-6) will be available for grade school students. Also, moving the middle school students will open a classroom so special education students won’t be in the district office and preschool students will be moved up from the basement.

Mr. Robel expressed concern about the “small, outdated kitchen.” If the bond passes, that kitchen will serve 112 fewer students and be much less congested. And contrary to his observation, the district has updated freezers, and the fryer is no longer used, which open up more space. A centralized kitchen was researched, but would not save enough money. If the middle school were to move to the high school site, the grade school kitchen could be remodeled.

The grade school bathroom situation needs updating, as Mr. Robel proposes. This is being addressed in the bond issue.

In regard to the “multiple leaks,” the roof is under warranty and repairs have been made. No leaks have occurred during the last two rains. I am unaware of any “catch buckets” other than the issue related to the science classroom in the spring.  Foundation issues continue to be monitored, but no current situations need repair.

The proposed gymnasium has attracted much attention, but consider the facts. First, it would serve as the classroom for mandated seventh- and eighth-grade PE. Those students now are bused four days a week to the high school, where conflicts arise because of high school students’ needs. Two volleyball courts would be used for middle school volleyball practices. Unfortunately, the south gym at the grade school is not equipped, nor safe, for athletic practices. The proposed new courts would be used for middle school athletic events. The gym would also be used for community youth sports activities.

The auditorium is another concern. Currently, a “gymatorium” is what we have at the high school. Though it’s been updated, acoustics remain poor. 

Finally, storm shelters. Mr. Robel is correct that the tunnels under the old high school could become storm shelters. As has been explained in community meetings, once the bond passes, engineers and local authorities will work with the district to determine shelter areas in both the grade and high schools. 

Mr. Robel, as do many community members, has valid concerns regarding the bond issue. However, it was unfortunate that his column was so inaccurate. 

People must vote as they see fit, but it’s important to have the facts.  At some point, we all must have some faith in this public process, especially when the administration and the Board of Education have answered every question that has been asked.

Vote “YES” on June 11 because our students do deserve better!

Jenneen LeMay lives at 7467 Crooked Creek Road in Riley

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