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Capital outlays, superintendent choice top school board agenda

Sun Advocate reporter

Administrative change, school renovation and new construction are all in the cards for the Carbon School District this summer as the board approved just over $2.3 million in capital outlay projects and announced a final round of interviews for superintendent position candidates at last week's public meeting.

The applicant pool for the district's top administrative spot was trimmed from seven to five during an executive session at the April meeting, as the board weighed the local community council's picks along with their own preferences. According to Carbon District Business Administrator Darin Lancaster, a final round of interviews will be conducted with the five remaining candidates at the end of April.

For the second straight year, the board will announce a new superintendent as the school year winds to a close. Their last pick, Dr. George Park, resigned from his position as superintendent in late December, following a lengthy legal battle which stemmed from issues concerning his career prior to coming to work for the Carbon District. While longtime district administrator and acting Superintendent Patsy Bueno stepped seamlessly back into the position she had retired from only months before, the board has stated on several occasions that they are ready to move into the future.

"The board would like to make an announcement about the position at our May meeting," explained Lancaster during a recent interview. "And if all five interviews are indeed conducted around the end of the month, that shouldn't be a problem."

According to Bueno, the applicant pool is very strong this time around.

"Both the citizen committee and the district staff were very pleased with those who applied this year," she said. "We are very excited to conduct these interviews, select a new superintendent and see the district move forward."

In addition to moving forward in terms of personnel, the district has also committed to making sure that their facilities withstand the test of time.

"Many of the capital projects we approved during the meeting have to do with upkeep and maintenance," explained Lancaster. "We try to take a section of every school, every year and replace certain items. This allows us to stay ahead of the constant wear taking place within the schools."

To this end, schools within the district will be getting new carpet, new lockers, new heaters, new cameras and new computers as the summer months come forward.

While smaller projects do account for a portion of the $2.3 million expenditure, the district has also approved some major changes.

According to Lancaster, Mont Harmon Jr. High will be getting a $300,000 Bus load/unload remodel which will address the way in which students enter and exit buses in the school's drop of zone.

"There have been issues with children crossing in front of the buses at Mont Harmon for some time," he said. "It is our hope that this project will make that zone much safer."

Wellington Elementary will also be seeing major work in the form of a new parking lot which will cost $370,000. The proposed project, which is still in the planning stages, will not only increase the amount of parking at the school but also make transportation at the school more convenient.

The district will also be replacing the roof at Castle Heights Elementary and purchasing a new school bus for the organization's fleet.

All told the district's expenditures total $2,338,138. However, in keeping with the area's track record of financial responsibility, local officials found a way to gather some revenue before closing their April session.

"We will be restructuring several refund bonds in order to take advantage of current interest rates," explained Lancaster. "If everything works out well with the restructure, the district will see a savings of between $40,000 to $50,000."

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