Knost fields questions on technology, facility upgrades at town-hall meeting

Restroom renovation planned in ’13 at Jack Jordan Stadium

By Kari Williams

Superintendent Eric Knost fielded questions from residents ranging from updating the bathrooms at Mehlville Senior High’s Jack Jordan Stadium to technology, among other topics, last week during the district’s first town-hall meeting of the current school year.

Roughly 35 people attended the Oct. 22 town-hall meeting at Genesis Banquet Center.

Knost addressed the district’s current technology plans, which he said are being funded “within (the district’s) current revenue streams.”

“We don’t have a fixed revenue stream. There hasn’t been a ballot issue in previous years that doesn’t have a sunset …,” Knost said. “A lot of districts lease computer equipment and have cycles in place. We don’t have that.”

The superintendent noted the district currently is in the second phase of its one-to-one open source pilot program, which provides high school students with laptops. The first phase was rolled out in the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year to freshmen English classes at both district high schools.

The second phase consists of roughly 600 laptops being issued to ninth grade students at both district high schools for core classes, along with the students who had laptops last semester continuing to their sophomore year with the devices.

At the elementary level, all third- through fifth-grade classrooms have “transferred over to four expandable cart laptop situations,” Knost said.

A pilot is being considered for kindergarten through second grade with tablets, according to the superintendent.

Knost also referenced the district’s five-year budget projections, which indicate the district can allocate $500,000 per year for technology through 2016 and “be right at that threshold” of 13 percent in reserve funds. The Board of Education is on record as wanting to maintain district reserves at or above 13 percent.

“We’ll continue to map out each year in advance how we’re spending that technology,” Knost said.

Resident Cheryl Williams, who has one child at Mehlville High and another who graduated from Mehlville in 2007, addressed restroom accommodations at Jack Jordan Stadium.

“We have the worst restrooms in our district. Worse than our sister. Every game I’ve been going to for the past four years of my sons, and it’s not just for football. It’s for the marching band. It’s for soccer, it’s for softball. It’s for baseball,” Williams said. “I mean, it is an embarrassment to have to use those types of restrooms and for anybody to bring anybody there.”

Williams told Knost she addressed the Board of Education in 2010 about “the unacceptable conditions the restrooms were in, in the field area” and that the issue was discussed at Compass II meetings.

“(Former Superintendent) Dr. (Terry) Noble did get more Johnny on the Spots added and it seemed that the board really understood the urgency that needed to be taken up,” Williams said.

Plans were drawn to update the restrooms, according to Williams, but she said she was told due to Proposition C — a proposed 88-cent tax-rate increase — failing and the superintendent changes, the plans “would have to be put on hold for a while.”

Knost said he cannot speak to Williams’ conversations with Noble or who told her the superintendent change caused a delay.

However, Knost said the restroom renovation is in year two — 2013 — of the district’s five-year facilities plan.