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Gering schools facing moves
January 22, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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At their January meeting, members of the Gering School Board agreed to form an advisory committee from within the community to consider what changes are needed for school facilities.

The committee, which is scheduled to have its first meeting on Feb. 1, will include a cross section of community members, including civic leaders, business people, parents, teachers, principals, and others.

Board member BJ Peters said the state is moving toward realigning school grades to K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. However, Gering’s facilities aren’t set up for that. “We’re about the only school district in the state that still has a junior high,” Peters said. “The high school was built in 1965 and doesn’t have the size to accommodate four grades.”

As part of its facilities study in 2014, the school board hired the architects of the Lincoln Elementary School to make recommendations for changes to accommodate the new grade configuration.

“An initial community group told us they’d like to see sixth graders moved into a middle school environment,” Peters told the board. “To do that, we’d have to move the freshmen into the high school. The current building can’t hold those numbers, so some improvements would have to be made.”

Peters said the board needs help from the community to help sort out district needs and make some of the decisions needed to improve the facilities. Those discussions would include not only the of buildings at Geil Elementary. Peters said modular buildings were never intended to provide long-term classroom space.

Peters said that in order to accommodate an additional 150 students, the high school building would need to be renovated and classrooms added.

That will probably include a bond election, similar to what Scottsbluff went through to make improvements to its high school.

Reorganization was also addressed at the January school board meeting. Members elected Brian Copsey as president and Mary Winn as vice president.

In other action, the district renewed its contract with First Student to provide transportation services.

The new contract will extend through June 30, 2020.

“We appreciate the work First Student has done for us,” said Gering Schools Superintendent Bob Hastings. “They’ve helped us put together a bus fleet that is much more up-to-date than our previous one. They work well with us and we appreciate the local staff and leadership.”
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