CHEROKEE - At a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 23, the Southeast Board of Education approved submitting an application to the Kansas State Department of Education seeking Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) in the amount of $750,000 to renovate the existing track at Southeast High School as well as other possible capital improvements across the district.

Through this federal QZAB program, school districts with low-income populations can save interest costs associated with financing school renovations. The federal government covers all or most of the interest in the form of tax credits to the financial institution or local bank. This process makes sense during a time when the district is working with a smaller budget and would not be able financially to pay a one-time lump sum for a large project such as renovating a track. If the QZAB application is approved the funds would be paid back to the local financial institution(s) through district capital outlay over a set period of time and would not require any increase from local tax payers.

The track located at Southeast High School has outlived its life expectancy and is beyond minor repairs. According to USD 247 Superintendent Dr. Brad Miner, large cracks, buckling, and major drainage issues have created safety concerns for students, staff, and patrons that use the track throughout the year. Last year the district was unable to use lane 7, and other lanes are questionable this year. If approved for the QZAB funds, the district will be able to replace the existing track with a state of the art 7-lane track that will include the use of recycled tires. By selecting a patented process utilizing recycled tires, the district can apply for a waste tire grant that could provide significant funds to offset the cost of the project. Miner was excited about this possibility and said that an important by-product of using this process is being able to teach the students more about recycling and sustainability.

"We consider our track a district and community track," Miner said. "It is used consistently throughout the school year for physical education classes, a place for all athletes to condition (not just during track season), and as a place where community members can walk and exercise. This project benefits all of Southeast.”

If you have any questions concerning the project you are encouraged to contact Dr. Miner at 620-457-8350 or bminer@usd247.com.