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Gering schools develop strategic plan for facility needs
September 20, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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A long-range strategic plan being developed by the Gering School District over the next year will help determine facility needs for the district’s buildings.

Over the summer, work was done on the locker rooms at the junior high and also on the building windows. And the City of Gering has built a new softball diamond where Gering is playing its home games this season.

Initial work was done over the summer to improve the drainage on the football field at the junior high.

“The intent is to eventually expand the space so it can be better used for soccer,” said Gering Schools Superintendent Bob Hastings.

“There’s still some grading work to do as well. This is a multi-phase project, although teams can play soccer on the field now.”

School Board member Alan Doll, who is also on the facilities committee, said everything boils down to dollars and cents and what the district can afford.

“Our biggest deal right now is maintenance of our existing facilities,” Doll said. “The high school is now to oldest building in the district and it was built in 1965.Some areas need attention, but it’s still on good shape.”

One project being proposed for the high school is to update the auditorium seating and sound system that will serve the district into the future.

Hastings said the district is undertaking a strategic study of all the district’s facilities, which might take a year or two.

“We’ll be looking at what things need to be updated and we have a good idea of those things already,” Hastings said. “We also need to think about the future and what will be our needs five or ten years down the road. If there are any changes in our community, we need to be ready for them.”

One item he mentioned was the concept of neighborhood schools, where students from the neighborhood attend the nearby school, as opposed to busing that is currently being implemented.

“Strategic planning comes first,” Hastings said. “That will determine what our goals are.”

He added the school board, administrators and staff will be a part of that discussion. He also encouraged parents and community members to provide their input as well.

“The board will set the goals, but they ultimately need to hear from the entire community what they want to see from our schools. This won’t just include facilities, but also how education is delivered in general.”

Hastings added no district will ever have enough funding to do all the things they need, but by setting priorities and goals, many things can be accomplished.

Doll agreed that state funding is a big factor. “We’re beholding to state aid so much in how the school district fares monetarily,” he said. “The strings that get pulled are controlled 400 miles east of here, so it makes it difficult. There’s nothing consistent about the state air formula.”

While no one can know what the future holds, Hastings said a strategic plan gives the district guidance toward being prepared for any eventuality.
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