Keystone, Jefferson West to meet soon
by Dennis Sharkey
A move for Keystone Learning Services and the John Dewey Learning Academy to Ozawkie seems like a logical decision but some concerns still need to be answered.
No meetings have taken place regarding the Ozawkie school building between Keystone and Jefferson West USD board members yet, but officials from both sides have said they would like to meet before the winter holiday vacation.
Earlier this month the Jefferson West USD 340 board appointed three members to negotiate with a group appointed by the Keystone board last month.
At the Keystone board meeting last week, board members said they had discussed the proposal with their respective boards. The questions were all the same. How much will it cost.
“The main thing is how much?” Keystone board member Jon Henry, who represents Oskaloosa USD 341 said. “It all makes sense as long as we can make money. That’s the big question.”
Board President Todd Gigstad, who represents Effingham USD 377, said his board also had some concerns about long-term security and what would happen if Keystone had to move out of the building.
The plan if a move is made is to consolidate and bring the JDLA together with the administrative offices. Currently the JDLA occupies the old high school building in Lecompton.
Keystone Director Dr. Tim Marshall said he believes that Jefferson West USD 340 board members will have a better idea of what to do with the building in a couple of years.
“I think the first round of occupancy will be the determining factor on that,” Marshall said. “Near the end of that first term I think they’ll know if they want to continue to own the building and if we want to continue to inhabit it.”
Marshall did not indicate how long of a term Keystone negotiators would be seeking, however, most believe it will be for more than one year.
If a move is made, Marshall said Keystone will maintain ownership of the building in Oskaloosa if a move back is necessary. The plan would be to rent out the building for a commercial purpose.
Jefferson West USD 340 board members have indicated that they intend on maintaining ownership of the Ozawkie building.
Marshall said when the process started that he wanted to keep the city of Lecompton in the conversation since a move would vacate the old high school building which is owned by the city. Marshall said he has met with city officials this month and will meet with them again if a move is made.
Marshall said that he met with building maintenance officials from Jefferson West USD 340 to determine what will need to be done to the building for occupation.
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