BOWIE — The Bowie Unified School District board met on April 14 for its monthly meeting.
Three pressing matters on the agenda were possible closing of the 86-year-old community pool, the possible closing of the community preschool and reconfiguring Bowie High.
Superintendent Wendy Conger spoke to the school board’s decisions regarding these topics and others.
The school board unanimously voted to close the pool indefinitely.
“The pool will sit as is with no trespassing signs,” Conger said. “The school does not have funding to repair or get up to ADA standards the 86-year-old pool. In addition, the school does not have any money to fund a community pool. In 2018, the district did not charge required fees for community pool use.
“It spent over $21,500 to operate. The district received several bids to take the pool out, but these were not even discussed as there are other priorities such as repair of the high school roof.”
The school board came to the conclusion that the community preschool needs to be permanently closed.
“The preschool was a community preschool,” Conger said. “We are not able to fund it. It was not a preschool funded by the Arizona Department of Education. In addition, several who attended were not from the Bowie community.
“Funding for this can be used for students who are enrolled and attending Bowie schools. The district did not charge any tuition or fees or obtain grants or donations to cover the costs of its community preschool program, which cost $14,200 to operate in 2018. This year, due to COVID, the preschool did not operate.”
Bowie High reconfiguration
“The district has been told, repeatedly, over several auditor general reports, that there (are some) inefficient plant operations (that have been observed),” Conger said. “The district needs to assess its excess capacity by closing space. The district received a bid to repair the roof of the high school. The cost is in excess of $150,000.
“The high school has at least 12 leaks. In addition, the high school is in need of a working elevator. The building is not ADA compliant. The board tabled the idea of reconfiguration of the high school.
“Of course, no one wants to close buildings, but not only is complying with the auditor general recommendations of extreme importance, but also the safety of the students in all of the buildings. ADA compliance should not be questioned nor should school safety. The roof is in poor condition. No staff are being eliminated and the district works hard to keep students enrolled.
“High school reconfiguration is tabled until May’s board meeting. We are a small school rural district trying to survive these tough times during a pandemic.
“The district will seek grants and continue to think outside the box. With the new superintendent starting June 1, 2021, the district is excited to move forward and to continue to be proactive,” Conger said.
Other areas of concern
Additionally, Conger provided multiple findings from the Arizona Auditor General’s April 2021 report addressed to the Arizona Legislature that showcase how it would be neither safe nor cost effective to continue to keep the high school open with the roof in the dangerous state it is in.
Other areas of concern highlighted in the report were, “high teacher turnover and noncompliance with state’s online instruction may have negatively impacted student achievement. In addition, district spent more on administration, plant operations and food service than peer districts and did not generate revenues to cover community program-likely diverting monies from instruction.”
School district response
According to a response letter sent to Mrs. Lindsey Perry, office of auditor general by Conger on March 26, “the school district has a current school improvement plan that is submitted to the Arizona Department of Education. This plan involves all stakeholders and is regularly updated and reviewed. The district adopted the Beyond Textbooks curriculum. This will ensure teachers implement a uniform curriculum across all grade levels.
“The district will conduct exit surveys with the superintendent. The district will conduct teacher satisfaction surveys annually.
“The district will continue to work with the State Board of Education to ensure its online instruction meets state accountability requirements. Bowie High School received its approval for Arizona Online Instruction in August 2020. In addition, the district utilizes Edgenuity online curriculum which ensures highly qualified teachers (in Arizona) for all subjects.”