ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
The future of a new elementary school building in Burns is in a state of limbo until the Peabody/Burns school board makes major decisions at upcoming board meetings.
Two crucial board meetings are scheduled for Oct. 10 and Oct 22. The regularly scheduled board meeting on Oct. 10 will have an open forum. The special board meeting on Oct. 22 is called to address issues concerning the recent condemnation of the elementary school building. It has not been decided yet if there will be an open forum at that meeting.
On Sept. 13, the state fire marshall condemned the elementary building housing 25 students in kindergarten through fourth grade, forcing first- through fourth-graders to temporarily resume classes at the Methodist Church Sept. 17. Kindergarten students were moved to the Burns Elementary School lunchroom, which was not condemned.
During a special school board meeting Sept. 27, the board voted 4-2 to tear down the condemned building and temporarily relocate first-to-fourth-grade students to Peabody Elementary School.
About 20 Burns students started regular classes in Peabody, Monday, Oct. 8.
“The members asked Burns to trust them,” said Brent Miles, mayor of Burns. “We have a very good school board, which is led by (Superintendent) Tom Alstrom. They are very understanding and care about the kids and their education.”
According to Miles, the Burns community is voicing its desire to build a new school to accommodate grades kindergarten through four and keep the children in the local community. There is also concern about the 17-mile bus trip to Peabody.
“Two Burns board members and myself have been going around the community trying to make sure the fires have been put out,” Miles said. “We’re talking to people, telling them to just hang in there and wait until the meeting on the 22nd.”
Alstrom said: “There is a possibility for a new building, that’s why I’m doing the research. With a school building, it’s a little different than just building a house. You have to make sure everything is there according to requirements by the state fire marshall and the state architect.”
He said the architects should have a set of drawings ready by the Oct. 22 meeting but he can’t even go out and get bids until everything is in place.
Miles said there is the possibility of using capital outlay funds, already in place, to pay for the new building if the bids come in at the right figure.
“As a last resort option, there appear to be more than ample volunteers from the community willing to help,” Miles said. “There’s always the possibility of fund-raisers.”