Archive for Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Public gets first glimpse of bond issue

January 8, 2003

Although attendance was low, the public got its first chance to ask questions concerning the Basehor-Linwood School District's proposed bond issue during the first of two scheduled forums.

The bond issue vote is scheduled for Jan. 21 and will decide whether the school district can proceed with plans to build a new Basehor-Linwood Middle School, and renovate Linwood, Glenwood Ridge and Basehor elementary schools.

During the Monday night meeting, the public asked questions ranging from cost of the project to design plans, district growth and what happens if the bond vote fails.

The $30 million bond issue will increase the school district's bonded debt by 276 percent.

School district taxpayers are paying approximately eight mills for the previous bond issue passed in 1997. A new bond issue would raise the mill levy to more than 23 mills, district officials said.

A mill is $1,000 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

The owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $172.16 in taxes a year if the bond issue is successful, district officials said.

John McArthur, the school district's financial advisor, told the 20 people gathered Monday night that the bond issue figures are based on conservative growth estimates and that the proposal would never be cheaper than it is now.

"(Previous bond failures) ended in more dollars and less square footage," McArthur said.

And "I think we have done a very good job of being fiscally responsible in this district," added Cal Cormack, school district superintendent.

For the past 16 months, district officials have monitored area growth and expect a large increase in attendance. The bond proposal, based on current and project construction costs, will help the district cope with the expect growth.

Some audience members warned school officials of building new schools based on projected growth when the nation and state economies are in limbo.

"(That new growth could) be offset by those of us moving out because of these taxes," said Sandra Clark, a Basehor resident.

But school officials pointed to already limited space and overcrowding at current schools and that new homes would bring even more students into the district.

Marilyn Daniels, a Basehor resident and Tonganoxie School District teacher, sympathized with the school district's need for more space.

"I don't think this bond issue is 'let's make this gorgeous,'" Daniels said. "It's 'we don't have room for these kids.'"

"There is a great need for space," she added.

The majority of the total proposal stems from costs associated with building the new middle school, which would be on a 79-acre parcel on County Road 2, directly east of Glenwood Ridge.

The new middle school will cost approximately $21 million and house sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

School officials said, the middle school would be an advantage to students both developmentally and educationally.

"(The grade configuration) is loved by staff, better for student's needs and offers more stability in transition for development," BLMS principal Mike Boyd said.

The middle school is currently at 84.3 percent capacity and the average class size is 28-30 students per room.

A new middle school would also be closer for 87 percent of middle school students, Boyd said.

Audience members also asked why the new middle school would need 79-acres.

School officials said only 40 acres would be used for the school and the other acreage was purchased as part of the package.

Cormack said the additional land is "nothing but a good investment," and could be used for construction or sold in the future.

A second public forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday night at Basehor-Linwood Middle School.

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