Haven USD 312 no longer wants its school building at Partridge, since the elementary school will close this spring. But a neighboring school district will consider the feasibility of the property.

The Nickerson-South Hutchinson USD 309 school board on Monday night directed its administration to inquire about the costs of operating the building. The motion came after Reno County resident Lisa French urged the district to consider possibilities for the building.

It is less than 20 years old and has a gymnasium, French pointed out at the USD 309 meeting. Perhaps it could be a charter school for entrepreneurs or for agriculture, she said. When Haven USD 312 operated it as a K-8 school, Amish families in the area sent children there. After it became a K-6 school, some Amish families found it less attractive, she said.

The school’s attendance now is about 51 students, but more than twice that many children in the region who are being homeschooled, the board was told.

“We want something long term,” French said, of the future for the Partridge school building. Working with the Nickerson-South Hutchinson USD 309 district appears to be the best option, she said.

“I think that’s an exciting opportunity,” said USD 309 Superintendent Dawn Johnson, but there’s a lot of information to look into, she added. Johnson was in Texas for a military training, but she was able to observe and participate in the school board meeing via technology.

Some parents of Partridge students are still determining where to send their children to school next fall. Options include Haven USD 312’s remaining schools, and also other school districts in Reno County, including USD 309, Pretty Prairie USD 311 and Fairfield USD 310. Haven USD has the authority under state law to prevent school buses from neighboring school districts from crossing into its district to pick up students, and it is exercising that authority.

French has inquired about changing that state law but was advised the current session in Topeka is too far advanced.

In other Nickerson-South Hutchinson school board business, architects with Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, Wichita, are continuing to gather input on school building shortcomings and needs. The school district is laying the groundwork for an eventual school bond election, but it will occur in 2019 at the earliest, not this year.

Also, several Nickerson High School parents expressed concern about how the school district responded to a student's Facebook post of a picture of a gun and the separate claim the student threatened to shoot up Nickerson High School.

The student post - the photo was a BB gun - was discovered at night and law enforcement intervened. The school district sent text messages to parents, but one mother thought the first message did not convey the seriousness of the situation. Also, a staff member apparently thought the student’s verbal threat was a joke.

“We need to have some professional development,” Johnson said, after listing to the comments. Staff members don’t get to judge such remarks as jokes, she said.