Hannibal School District to explore development of Sutherlands property


HANNIBAL, Mo. — Hannibal School Superintendent Susan Johnson requested and received permission from the Hannibal School Board to begin formally exploring the development of the former Sutherlands lumber store in an “Innovation Campus”.

Johnson asked to hire an architect and engineer to investigate the cost of converting the property, which is across the road from Hannibal High School at 4417 McMasters Avenue, into the Hannibal Regional Innovation Campus.

Johnson said the campus would consist of three different things:

1. An expansion of existing and new technical programs. That would include adult education which was cut by the district several years ago. Area employees would be able to utilize the facility to train employees on equipment they use. 

2. An early college program. With that program students would be able to earn enough college credits to get an associates degree. Those students would then be able to transfer to a four year school.

3. A health care curriculum. So many students are looking at careers in health care that the school district has added a third health services instructor.

Johnson said she needs cost estimates on the project so she can begin applying for local, state and federal grants and other funding. The building has been vacant since 2014.

The board unanimously approved her request.

Other than that, it was mostly routine business was addressed by the School Board during its regular monthly meeting Wednesday night. The board did hear a couple of reports during the meeting from Transportation Director Scott Speer and School Resource Officer, Sergeant Joel Combs of the Hannibal Police Department.

Speer’s presentation included a report on Entry Level Driver Training or ELDT. ELDT is a rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “to strategically reform burdensome regulations to improve the lives of ordinary Americans by saving them valuable time and money-while simultaneously maintaining the highest level of safety.

The rule went into effect on February 7 of this year. The ELDT affects any agency that trains CDL drivers including school transportation. Missouri Highway Patrol Testing Centers can no longer test trainees without ELDT Credentials.Trainers must be ELDT authorized to provide training. Their training facility must also be authorized. Speer told the board that the Hannibal School District currently has four certified trainers and the training facilities in Hannibal meet the requirements of ELDT. The district is also discussing opening up the  training services to surrounding school districts which are struggling to keep licensed bus drivers on staff. Local companies such as the Trolley Company and Mark Twain Cave could also benefit as could community members looking to obtain a CDL. Speer said opening up the training could bring some revenue to the district.

Sgt. Combs’ presentation showed the rise in vaping by students at both Hannibal High and Hannibal Middle School. During the 2019-2020 school year, only a handful of vaping instruments were confiscated. That total more than quadrupled during the 2020-2021 school year and is on track to rise by the same figure during the current school year. The district has added detectors at both buildings and will likely add more while looking at other ways to cut down on vaping on campus.

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