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Nielson Gym at Ladue High School Finally Gets a New Maple Floor

District resident, retired Clayton School teacher Lary Baker takes school board to task.

The rubber/plastic floor in the Steve Nielson Gymnasium at Ladue Horton Watkins High School has been a bone of contention for some 30 years, and a downright embarrassment at least the last 10.

Finally, the Ladue School District Board of Education did something about it. By unanimous approval, the board authorized $150,000 to be spent in minor renovations to the gym, of which $125,000 is designated to put down a new maple floor. Other work includes sprucing the gym up with fresh paint and doing repair work to the bleachers.

Small wonder no one got seriously hurt on this substandard floor the past few years. The floor is worn to the sub flooring in places, and chewing gum is permanently affixed in other spots. The new floor, which will be installed during August and early September will be raised a couple of inches.

Installation work will begin on August 22, the day after the annual Blue/White pep rally to kick off fall sports competition.

“If this floor is treated properly, and it will, it will have a life span of some 30-50 years,” said Dr. Jason Buckner, the district’s assistant superintendent for business and finance.

At the same time, the board authorized repaving of the parking lots at the high school and middle school. St. Louis Asphalt was low bidder at $75,055.00 for the high school and Ford Asphalt will do the work at the middle school for $37,290.00.

The board authorized the tuition rate for non-resident students. Only students, who do not live in the district, but have parents who own property may pay tuition to Ladue. That rate for the coming year is $11,878.00 per student and that applies presently to just four students.

Olivette resident takes issue with board

In the public portion of the meeting, Olivette resident Lary Baker, 9270 Villa Ave. took the board to task.

A retired career teacher in the Clayton School district, who sent his children to Ladue, Baker was highly critical of the new one-time offer for early retirement for certified staff.

He voiced strong objection saying, “You are making a statement that you don’t want to have a senior staff for your children.”

Offers to staff personnel with at least 10 years in the district and meeting other criteria can receive a one-time $25,000 bonus for retiring early were announced earlier this year.

Baker challenged the board to tell him what kind of data was used to make this determination.

“What was this task force all about, and how did you collect your data,” he challenged the board. “The decision to not have a senior staff in any district is a kiss of death,” he said. He praised the board for trying to save money, but indicated it should be suggested in other areas.

“This is just fraught with danger and has the ability to destroy any school. This is just the wrong way to go about (saving money) and the price for doing this is just too high,” said Baker.

School board officials plan on responding to Baker’s requests for more information soon.

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