top of page
  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

PV board gives greenlight to daycare construction

Updated: Jun 27

The Prairie View school board has approved a $353,000 bid to renovate the district's former bus barn in La Cygne for a daycare center. (Journal file photo)

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, the location and spelling of the construction company were incorrect. Combes Construction LLC is based in Bucyrus. We regret the error.

LA CYGNE – in the aftermath of two special meetings, the Prairie View school district is on course again to open a daycare center for staff and residents whose children are in pre-kindergarten classes by as early as Sept. 3.

A special meeting called on June 3 saw board of education members split on whether to proceed with construction of the center in the district’s former bus barn in La Cygne. Following a 3-to-3 vote stalemate on whether to proceed, board members requested that Superintendent Chris Johnson get additional construction bids and firm up potential grant funding for the project.

Board members Rita Boydson, Brian Uphoff, and board president Russell Pope voted to proceed with the project even though about a quarter million dollars would be coming from the school’s reserve funds unless grants came through. 

That was too big a difference for board members Brian Lueker, George Nunnemacher, and Wade Teagarden, who had gone on record being against the district taking on the daycare program. Board member Brad Heide was unable to make that meeting, and Pope was not able to reach Heide by phone for a vote to break the tie.

At that time Johnson had only received one bid of $353,000 from Bucyurus.-based Combes Construction LLC to convert the former shop into a license daycare facility. She also anticipated a grant from the Patterson Family Foundation.

That would be in addition to the $106,000 already set aside for the project by United Way of Miami and Linn counties plus the additional $15,000 United Way money the program would receive.

However, in order to receive the United Way funds, the district needed to have an invoice in hand by June 30, putting pressure on Johnson and her staff to get commitments from funding sources and find competitive bidders.

A special meeting was scheduled tentatively for three days later, but was cancelled because all of the pieces were still not in place. Then with the deadline looming near, a hastily called special session on Thursday afternoon, June 13, put the issue again in front of the board.

Johnson told the board that her attempts to solicit a bid from another construction company that could finish the project by September were unsuccessful. She was more successful in getting commitments from grants, however.

The Patterson Family Foundation, an area non-profit that has invested in daycare programs including the Louisburg school district’s daycare, gave a tentative commitment of $175,000. Heartland Rural Electric Cooperative committed another $5,000. Johnson also said she had been working with Linn County officials on a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), but she had little confidence that option would work.

With those grant commitments and the United Way money in hand, Johnson said that the school district would need to commit to $52,000 for the project until she could raise more funds.

Board member Lueker initially voted for the daycare center when it was first proposed, but he voted against it when funding for construction was uncertain. However, at the June 13 meeting he told Johnson that, in being true to his conservative outlook and his concern about government encroachment, he would vote against the project.

Johnson said she understood Lueker’s concerns. However, she also has said that because of the shortage of daycare openings in the area there has been significant interest in the new program.

The superintendent read from a letter by Bayleigh McLellan, a para-educator at La Cygne Elementary School.

In the letter, McLellan said that it was difficult to find daycare for her preschool son, and because of that she could only work part-time. However, with daycare available she would now be able to work full time and earn more to support her family.

Johnson also recounted communication with high school math teacher Tamala Snyder, who said that she might need to retire sooner than planned to care for her grandchildren.

Following discussion, a motion to proceed with the renovation of the building for a daycare received four “yes” votes, and Lueker voted against the measure. Teagarden and Nunnemacher were not able to make the meeting.

70 views0 comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page