BAXTER SPRINGS — The Baxter Springs School Board had set aside money for the demolition of the old high school/middle school.  Instead, now they are looking to sell the property. 

The board told Superintendent Dennis Burke to continue to pursue the opportunity to sell to either Cohen-Esrey Real-Estate Services, LLC or Prairie Fire, LLC in order to make the old building into sliding scale retirement apartments.  There was talk of redoing the gym and using it for the retirees for exercise and holding school events in it as an auditorium.  It was suggested the bottom floor of the building could be used as a gathering area for residents, like community rooms.  Schools and historic buildings in Fredonia, Ottawa, and Independence have already been renovated or are in the process for this purpose.  This would actually save the district money.  It should actually generate income from the initial sale.

The retirement apartments would be studio-sized, one bed, one bath, two bed one bath and two bed two bath. All would rental less than $500 a month.

The project will require rezoning but late night noise should not be an issue. As retirees move to the apartments, it should free up affordable housing for young adults or residents new to the area.

There will be a pancake feed for the class reunion that will be gathering this weekend on Saturday with drinks of coffee and orange juice to be served. The donations generated by the feed will be placed into the fund for the new Baxter Public Schools Foundation.

Principal Art Roberts announced that the elementary schools will be having a carnival fundraiser and need donations. Also, the students will be celebrating the 50th day of school by collecting money for a charity, dressing up in ‘50s attire, and learning about the educational system during the 1950s.

Middle School Principal Jason Walker announced that the annual PTO candle sales are about to begin. Walker also mentioned there is grant money available for physical activities in Cherokee County. If Walker’s school was awarded grant money, they would like to seal and fix the cracks in the track and add exercise stations around the track. Walker also said the grant application is due Oct. 22.

High School Principal David Pendergraft said that Friday is school wide community service day. The student body will be broken into seven groups that will go out and pick up trash along Route 66 in Baxter. As an added bonus, the teaching staff will be having a pancake cook-off beforehand for the students.

The main crux of the meeting focused on a presentation by three middle school students on the use of new iPads in the classroom this year. The students have access to multiple apps like, Skitch, Comic Life, Keynote, Flash Cards, American History Test Prep, Math White Board, and the 3M Cloud Library.

“We are very pleased with our middle school iPad initiative. They have taken better care of the equipment than we expected. They are used in the classrooms more than we expected. And, both the teachers and the students are more excited about learning,” said Technology Director Ross Davis. “One teacher today pretty well summed it up. She said the kids are about two months ahead of where they are usually at this time. She said their work is better and they are getting it turned in on time and everyone is enjoying education that much more.”

With the 3M Cloud Library, students are able to request books from the state library as long as they possess a state library card. Those students that are 13 and above can access their Nook and Kindle accounts from their iPad. One app, Accelerated Reader, allows teachers to give tests on the iPad at school. The entire math textbook is on the iPad at a cost of eight dollars per year per student for five years and is updated as often as the company updates its information. Two thirds of the apps on the students iPads are free. Forty-three dollars was spent per iPad on apps for the school year. In the long run, the school is saving money by not wasting paper and buying expensive textbooks that become outdated within a school year. Half of the iPads’ storage space was left after adding all that was needed for the school year. Only two iPads have been damaged by students. As demonstrated in the meeting, students with no prior iPad exposure have had no trouble picking up the technology.