GHEC may combine operations

GRANADA – The Granada-Huntley-East Chain school board is considering the pros and cons of combining all grade levels into one building.

Currently, grades K-6 are housed in East Chain, with 7-12 and the preschool in Granada.

“We’ve been in a state of ‘survival’ for quite a while,” Superintendent Steve Heyd told the board Thursday. “Maybe now is the time to start thinking about the future. It could be a substantial cost savings to the district. This isn’t new. This has come up periodically over the years.”

About 10 years ago, a committee explored the same possibility. At the time, the district would have lost $185,000 in small schools and sparsity aid. Heyd said the law governing that aid has changed so these funds would still be received.

Heyd presented an estimated savings of more than $220,000 per year in utilities, maintenance, transportation and personnel.

Heyd noted there would be one-time expenses incurred with the move, such as transporting equipment and supplies.

“This school was built for an enrollment of 500,” Heyd said, referring to the Granada building.

Predicted enrollment in grades K-12 for the next four years is about 200.

“The reality is you’re saving money,” he said. “At some point in the future, you’re going to have to take a look.”

Board members discussed the merits of maintaining the East Chain gym because it is in better condition than the one in Granada. They also discussed building a new gym.

“Would it be worth saving the [East Chain] gym?” asked board member Troy Jensen.

“I’d question spending $2 million on a new gym and only playing a handful of games,” said board member Bryan Nowicki, referring to a possible merger of the basketball program with Martin Luther and Truman schools, which would result in fewer games played in Granada.

“There’s a lot of unknowns as to where we’re going to be in 10 years,” said board member Tim Pytleski.

“You have to have two plans – one for growth and one for decline,” Heyd told the board.

Board chairman Robert Garry said more information is needed, especially from the residents of the district.

“I don’t think we need to be in a hurry,” said Garry, suggesting the formation of a committee representative of all demographics in the district.

The board decided to contact people on the previous committee to see if they would consider serving again.

Anyone else interested in serving on the committee should contact a board member.

In other business, the school board:

o Learned that Martin Luther High School withdrew its application to join the girls basketball program with GHEC and Truman.