RANCHESTER — At their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, the Sheridan County School District 1 board approved the purchase of 15 acres of land adjoining the Big Horn campus. The land was purchased for $294,000 and was purchased using money from the state, rather than district funds.
“Currently, that is property we have been leasing as staging for construction,” Superintendent Marty Kobza explained. “It gives us the opportunity to do things such as parking, for large events so we don’t have people walking across the road.”
He also noted the additional space could be used to expand or create fields for sports or other activities.
“This purchase is being made by the School Facilities Commission,” he added. “That does not come from the general fund or our budget, the state is purchasing the property. This property is being purchased by the state because that campus does not fit into the acreage that is recommended for a campus that size.”
The board also approved Plan 1 as the architect for the new Tongue River Elementary School. Plan 1 has several offices in the region, but the district will work with the office based in Cody for construction of the school.
The board has chosen a prototype design that SCSD 1 Business Manager Jeremy Smith said will allow construction of the building to proceed quickly.
“We are so overcrowded at Tongue River Elementary, we knew we could build this school much quicker rather than going from scratch with a design,” he said. “We obviously have made some customizations to it, some tweaks that fit our specific needs.”
Smith said construction will begin in spring 2014 and is expected to last 14 months.
The board also had a short discussion on the possibility of opting out of federal money for the secondary school lunch program if the federal government institutes rules that would regulate what can be served in the schools. The rule is currently under review and comments are being taken on it. Smith stressed that the rule, if it goes into effect, would take place during the 2014-2015 school year not the current school year.
“It would regulate the sales of all foods in our schools during school hours, so no more vending machines, no more bake sales, no more nothing,” he told the board. “So we really don’t think that is a worthwhile place for the federal government to stick its nose. Unless we follow the rules, we’ll have to abandon the federal subsidy. If we can’t follow their rules we can’t take their money. It’s not a fun topic, but if the rule goes into effect as it is written, we don’t have much choice.”