Winfield board of education members on Monday agreed to seek a request for proposals regarding the sale of a district-owned lot between East Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Kent Tamsen, USD 465 director of operations, will put together the request for proposals. The vacant lot is east of Holy Name Catholic Church and just north of the Winfield Early Learning Center.

Developers wanting to build housing on the lot have expressed interest in purchasing it. Their first offer to buy the property was for about half of its appraised value. Board members saw that offer as too low to even consider, and they also had other concerns about the property.

Student safety is a major concern. The lot’s nearness to the WELC, which already has traffic tie-ups every day when school lets out, is the first concern. Additional traffic from those living in the new housing could increase the traffic hazard.

The district has been using part of the property as a parking lot, and they do not want to let that go.

What the developers are willing to pay for the property is an issue. What effect the development would have on both the neighborhood and the community are also concerns.

Board members Ed Trimmer and Kinnie Ledford were concerned that the RFP be clear that the district is under no obligation to accept a purchase offer if the board does not think it meets their criteria for the sale.

Tamsen said he will put together a request for proposals and get it to the board members in about a week so they can make a decision on it at their next board meeting on Oct. 25.

Rescue fund spending

Superintendent Nathan Reed and the board of education discussed how the district might use it s more than $3 million from the American Rescue Plan.

The funding is titled Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER), and follows two other infusions to deal with coronavirus pandemic issues.

Reed gave a general overview of the requirements attached to the funding.

Planning how to spend the money has just begun. Stakeholders (staff and site councils) must be consulted. School principals are already doing this, Reed said.

Any expenditures for furniture and safety equipment must be based in controlling the spread of COVID.

English language learners, migrant, special education, civil rights, foster care and students, families and personnel — anyone or anything deemed at-risk — must be the focus of the planning.

Twenty percent of the funding must go to research-based strategies to improve learning. It may help with improvement of facilities depending on the district’s direction.

Keeping additional staff hired with ESSER II funding is a district goal, Reed said.

Board member Brent Wolf said he thought hiring more personnel and discovering ways to keep them should be the focus of the planning.

“We need to find creative ways to find new staff and keep them,” Wolf said.

The relief money will also enable the district to fund another summer school and to hire enough personnel.

The district also needs to adequately train support staff such as para professionals before they are sent into the classroom, Wolf said.

“They get into the classroom and don’t know what to do, and at lunch they go home and don’t come back,” Wolf said.

Discussion about the ESSER planning will continue, Reed said.

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