There could be repairs coming to the 21st Century Walton Rural Life Center elementary school — a set of modulary/temporary classrooms are due for repairs to fix leaky roofing, windows and floors.

Recently the district put out a bid to for immediate repairs to the modular units. While six companies were sent a bid packet, only two returned a bid.  Bids were reviewed to ensure all bid specifications were met. Monday, administration will recommend awarding the bid to the low bidder — Vogts Construction Company of Newton with a total price of $127,806.

The bid award appears as part of the consent agenda, meaning passing the consent agenda passes all items within it. There will likely not be board discussion of the bid as a result. 

The modular units in question were placed at the school in 2014, purchased used. At the time of purchase and installation, the board of education was told by vendors that the modular buildings would have a life span of between five and 10 years.

"We knew that going in, and we knew we needed a permanent decision within that time frame," said Deb Hamm, superintendent of USD 373.

The modular classrooms now leak — water comes into the classrooms through the roof and windows during rainstorms.

At times, water even comes up through the floor.

"We found this fall that the way the site was graded, water was pooling around and undeneath it," Hamm said. "Water began penetrating from the floor."

As result, the board of education chose to move forward with renovations that will replace sheetrock wall, flooring, subflooring, windows and doors throughout the modular classrooms.

"I have to have that building to educate those kids," Hamm said. "We have to keep those open to have a place for kids, a place I do not have elsewhere."

The Walton school was constructed in 1963 as a high school. Hamm told the Kansan that "very little" has been done to improve the building since it was constructed.

A 2017 bond issue proposed $11 million in renovations and expansion of the school — including the removal of the modular units in favor of a permanent structure. That bond issue, more than $62 million, failed to pass.

This year Newton USD 373 applied for another bond, more than $80 million in scope. One question in that bond was more than $20 million for a new elementary school. The application was denied, as it would have put the state over a $300 million cap imposed by the Legislature. Members of the board of education have stated their intention to reapply for that bond election in the future — as early as July when the next application period opens.   

"Success means we build a new school and moving the Walton program in three years," Hamm said. "If that is not the case, I will still have to have the classroom space at Walton. ... There is (not enough) permanent classroom space there. If a bond does not pass, we will need the classroom space."