The Mid-Prairie School District continues to experience slow and steady enrollment growth. Our strong focus on preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s world in a caring learning environment in a culture of continuous improvement has led to our highest ever certified enrollment. Almost 400 students from 17 other school districts are open enrolled into the district. Of those 400, over 200 students are open enrolled into our regular K-12 classrooms. Open enrollment brings in over 2 million dollars to Mid-Prairie from other school districts. Altogether, we serve over 1800 students in all of our programs.
Even slow and steady growth requires careful planning and implementation in order to maintain a quality learning environment. Curriculum and instructional materials must be updated and improved. Technology should be continually evaluated, and new technology selected when it is shown effective for learning. The physical, emotional and social needs of students are constantly changing and must be assessed to ensure proper programs are in place.
The physical needs of the district must also be reviewed frequently. Short and long range maintenance schedules and improvement plans need to be created. Classrooms and other spaces within our buildings need to be repeatedly studied to guarantee they are adequate and used optimally.
For the last year and a half, more than 40 teachers, support staff, parents, administrators and community members have been meeting on a regular basis. Their main purpose was to evaluate the space needs of the district and make a master facility recommendation to the school board. Getting input from school staff and students was crucial to their work as well as studying district enrollment predictions and various construction costs. Many ideas were brainstormed, and elaborate discussions were held on the pros and cons of the various options that could meet the district’s needs. The committee will soon finish its work with the goal of presenting its recommendations to the school board in January.
On another note, several months ago, a family member owning land near the Mid-Prairie High School informed me that the family was going to be selling that land at auction. After numerous discussions in closed session, the school board members authorized the attempted purchase of this property as long as the final price was within certain limits.
The school district was the successful bidder at auction and purchased 28 acres of land on the south side of Highway 22 across from the high school for a total price of $308,660 or $11,024 an acre. For comparison purposes, last June Clear Creek-Amana purchased 100 acres of farm ground north of Oxford along Highway 6 for $15,000 an acre and College Community recently purchased 160 acres adjacent to their school campus for $29,900 an acre. The district used available sales tax funds to pay for the purchase.
The school board did not authorize this purchase with any specific purpose in mind. However, it is no secret that space is tight on the high school site. Eventually more space will be required if the district keeps growing. No one can predict when that may happen. It could be many years from now. If the school district waited, it is almost certain 28 acres would cost the district much more than $300,000 to buy in the future when it is needed.
There are no immediate plans for the property other than to keep it in crop production. I have had conversations with Elsa Schmidt, Mid-Prairie Vo-Ag Teacher and FFA Sponsor, to explore the possibilities of it being used for learning opportunities. It is possible the FFA Club may farm the ground or manage it for the school district. I am excited for the potential use of this asset as a way to enhance student learning.
In closing, I want to take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to all Mid-Prairie community members for a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to contact me anytime during the new year at 319-936-8601 with any questions or concerns.
Mark Schneider, Superintendent