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School building needs new owner

McCune Residents Asked for Input on Future of School Building: District has Offer from Non-profit

Updated:
MCCUNE, KANSAS - The Southeast school district will soon have an empty building on its hands.

     And the city of McCune Kansas gets first right of refusal. Tonight residents in the city of McCune are encouraged to attend a community meeting and  express their while a Neosho, Missouri  man asks the district to give the building to him.

Now kids eat lunch in the McCune attendance center cafeteria but when it closes at the end of the school year, it closes for good. The USD 247 superintendent says its fiber optic network is just what a Neosho non profit needs to start an after school program promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)  learning.

The founder of Branches, Inc., the non profit wanting the school building says,  “We have a large data load with streaming videos, voice  communication.  Fiber optics would easily handle that.”

Superintendent Glenn Fortmayer says, “I was in lake Washington district in Washington state and we had a similar program. Students access  drafting software, virtually produced  Lego pieces or pipe and they had to do it make designs to certain level  performance I’ve seen in action what they’re doing it’s a very sophisticated  5359 high end type of learning great  for every one of our kids to participate in.”

The  district wants to act fast because there are costs associated with maintaining even an empty building.

Fortmayer says, “Our cost would be 25 to 30 thousand dollars per year to continue just to maintain an empty building. Whenever a building’s  vacant it becomes much more expensive insurance so it offsets any savings you  get from utilities. But we still have to maintain utility connections.”

That’s a  cost the city clerk says McCune can't afford. Anita McGown says, “With the school closing our revenues gonna go down which we can’t afford a lot more to go down. We  kind of maintain on a shoe string right now. It’d be hard for the city to take it over and maintain it.”

 City council woman Cherie Schenker  says McCune’s economic development committee is concerned about Parson's lack of business licensing and  financial backing or assets  to maintain  a building that is three times the size of his project plan.  She says the committee has made contact with multiple companies and non-profits about developing the building.     But the superintendent says he’s  only been approached by parsons.

 All agree that they don't want the school sitting idle.  McGown says of citizens, “They’re like me as a citizen. They don’t want to see it fall apart and be an empty shell of a building that used to be so lively and with kids you know.”

The decision is ultimately up to the school board which won't act until McCune officials  decides if they want the school or not.

        McCune residents are asked to attend tonight's meeting. It starts at seven o’clock in the community room of the library.

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