Highland News Leader

Parent raises safety concerns at Alhambra school

Parents from Alhambra and Grantfork expressed concerns at Monday’s Highland School Board meeting about the use of and safety in those school buildings.

Kim Lewis of Grantfork asked the School Board about where Alhambra Primary stands on receiving funds for a vestibule at the main entrance into the school. Currently, Alhambra’s main entrance allows access directly into the school without passing through the front office.

“It would be very easy for someone to simply walk past the office into the building,” Lewis said.

In the past, district officials believed building a vestibule at Alhambra Primary was too costly, Highland Superintendent Mike Sutton said.

Lewis believes the School Board should now consider using health-life-safety improvement money to pay for the safety improvements.

“We are currently the only building in the district without this safety feature,” Lewis said.

Jeff Williams, director of district’s building grounds, said the vestibule and other safety improvements were looked at when the district recently completed a health-life-safety survey.

The results of that survey will be announced in May, District Business Manager Tim Bair said.

The district had been planning to use about $460,000 from its health-life-safety fund to make track repairs at the Highland Middle School and Highland High School. But the School Board on Monday rejected the bids for both track projects, saying the proposed improvements were significantly higher than expected.

The School Board is expected to reconsider the track improvements this fall, when they anticipate the price of asphalt will decrease significantly.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Lori Kampwerth asked the School Board for a better understanding on why they decided to keep third grade at the Alhambra Primary School.

Last year, the district moved third grade to Alhambra’s campus and fourth grade to Grantfork, after they closed the New Douglas school.

Alhambra Primary now has 147 pre-kindergarten through third-grade students on its campus.

Grantfork Elementary, on the other hand, has 64 fourth- and fifth-grade students.

Kampwerth said Grantfork was “used successfully as a K-6 building for many years, previously.”

“The Grantfork campus is available and should be used as efficiently as possible,” she said. “It better serves the students and the district to use all of our resources to the fullest. Wasting useable space can be equated with wasting precious district tax dollars.”

Kampwerth believes by moving the third grade to Grantfork, the district will also be able to align classes to more closely match the Highland campus.

“It seems that moving third grade to Grantfork Elementary would be the obvious choice,” she said. “It is our hope that you can help us to understand how this choice was made so that we can move forward as a united group for a positive school.”

Sutton said the district made its decision based on the scheduling of the arts and physical education teachers. In a few years, there will also be two sections of third, fourth and fifth grades, he added.

“That would be a lot of kids for Grantfork to hold,” Sutton said.

While Grantfork did have K-6 in the building at one time, the school has since spread out and is using most of those classrooms for art, band, library, and a computer lab.

“We felt the schedule worked better for the itinerant staff if third grade was at Alhambra,” Sutton said. The itinerate staff (people who move from school to school) includes music, art and P.E. teachers.

“This remains true for next year,” Sutton said.

In other news, the School Board hired Caleb Houchins as the new athletic director/assistant principal at Highland High School. Houchins will replace Steve Lanxon, who announced earlier his plans to retire at the end of the current school year.