Bond project construction is 90 percent completed and should be finished in time for the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, according to a report at the April 9 USD 443 Board of Education meeting.

With all the new construction, comes additional need for equipment and personnel. The board approved some of both Monday night, starting with new audio/video equipment at Dodge City High School.

"We decided two years ago that the high school would have displays of a different sort than the Smart Boards we were using," Executive Director of Management Information Technologies Ray Wipf said. "Whatever the teachers do on a laptop or iPad can be connected to these screens. It’s a new way of doing things in this district. Costs are a little cheaper and we think it’ll do the same thing as the Smart Boards."

The district sent out requests for bids but only received one back.

"We made a conscious decision to send this out for bid. We didn’t want to do a single source in order to be transparent," Executive Director of Business and Finance William Hammond said. "There were five companies the engineers felt could do the job; but, for whatever reason, they chose not to bid."

A local company did contact the district but was unable to meet the specifications in the bid.

"How big are the Smart Boards teachers have," board member Jeff Hiers asked. "Is this going to be bigger, smaller?"

The 70 inch screens will be slightly bigger, according to Dr. Fred Dierksen, Superintendent of Schools, and shaped a little differently.

In addition, Maker Space equipment was approved for DCHS.

"The video wall is going to be just a little bigger than the room at The Learning Center," Wipf explained. "The different is that this will have technology included so each TV can present something different. Other than that, it’s pretty much what we have at The Learning Center."

The video wall will be comprised of nine 55-inch televisions, plus the technology necessary to run the system, as well as installation, at a total cost of $157,916.

"This is all budgeted out of new construction," Hiers asked.

According to Hammond, a certain amount was evaluated for architectural services and fees, another amount for construction, and then a final amount for equipment.

"Equipment is where this money is coming from," he said. "It’s budgeted."

In addition to new equipment to fill the new classrooms, the district is looking to add several new positions.

"Since 2001, the high school has grown by 500 students. Over half the districts in Kansas right now have 550 students or less but all have school nurses," Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Dr. Glenn Fortmayer said. "We have one nurse at DCHS for the equivalent of four of those districts."

Fortmayer said legal requirements call for a registered nurse to complete paperwork and sign off on many cases. The board approved the hiring of either a two-year or four-year nurse to better serve the students by lowering the caseload.

The district is currently searching for an HVAC Journeyman; however, according to Dr. Ramona Nance, Executive Director of Human Resources, that position has historically been difficult to fill.

"How do we handle it if we don’t have someone on staff," Hiers asked.

Chris Meyer, Maintenance Supervisor, said the district handles as much as possible in house but then will farm it out to contractors.

"Could we set up a contract with a local company for them to be on call 24/7," Hiers asked.

Meyer said that was something the district could explore but the cost would be higher than having someone employed by the district.

The board also heard an update on the Nutrition and Food Storage building, as well as on Capital Outlay projects. The next meeting is scheduled for April 23 at noon. It’s being held at the Adult Education building.