The Lawrence school board voted Monday to authorize $4.1 million in maintenance and renovation projects that are outside the scope of the recently-passed $92.5 million bond issue.
The projects include a number of routine maintenance items such as roof replacements and heating and air conditioning upgrades, as well as athletic equipment and facilities, most of which will be funded out of the district's annual capital outlay fund.
The largest project on the list calls for replacing a boiler and other heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School.
Assistant superintendent Kyle Hayden explained that was because the board made a conscious decision not to fund those kinds of projects with bond proceeds.
But the project that generated the most discussion calls for spending $290,000 to build one new tennis court and rebuild five existing courts at Free State High School.
Hayden said the existing courts were built about 15 years ago and were poorly engineered from the beginning. He said the courts do not drain water properly which causes the surfaces to deteriorate and makes them unusable during much of the regular tennis season.
That project does not call for installing lights on the tennis courts. District officials said they had been asked by the Lawrence Tennis Association and others in the community to build lighted tennis courts, but that lights are not needed for high school competition.
The project list also calls for $1.5 million in technology purchases, including $750,000 for laptops, tablets and other devices, and another $750,000 for audio-visual interactive equipment.
Those types of items are not on the list of bond-funded projects because they tend to last only about three to five years. The technology portion of the bonds will go for routers, switches and other "infrastructure" items that will expand the district's wireless and provide greater bandwidth.
Those purchases are part of the district's longer-term goal of shifting to what education experts call a "blended classroom" model of learning, which uses both online resources as well as traditional teacher-led instruction.
To make way for that, the board also approved a reorganization plan for the district's administration that calls for moving several curriculum specialist positions out of the central office and into school buildings where they will work as "teachers on special assignment."
Assistant superintendent Adam Holden said their role will be to help classroom teachers build the online "course shells" that contain the reading material, exercises, homework assignments and tests that go along with each class.
Holden said the plan also calls for adding more "learning coach" positions — veteran teachers who will help other teachers make the transition to the blended classroom model.
Holden said the reorganization plan will have an added net cost, although he couldn't provide an estimate at Monday's meeting.
Superintendent Rick Doll, however, said much of the cost will be funded by spending down cash balances in funds for at-risk and special education.