Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2003

Round Two: bond issue again goes to the polls

Voters to decide fate of $29.9 million bond

March 27, 2003

Unlike the previous bond issue election, Basehor-Linwood School District officials aren't putting any expectations on the current proposal before voters.

"I would say all of us are a lot more realistic," said Cal Cormack, Basehor-Linwood School District superintendent. "We know there is opposition and there was a sizable no vote the last time.

"It can easily go down. We're well aware of that."

However, with class sizes reaching levels close to 30 students per room, and three elementary schools near capacity, school officials are hoping against hope to move forward with the new school construction.

On April 1, 6,400 registered voters in the school district will have an opportunity to decide the fate of the $29.9 million bond issue.

The funds would pay for the construction of a new Basehor-Linwood Middle School, four new classrooms at Basehor Elementary School, eight new classrooms at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School and renovation to Linwood Elementary School.

A breakdown of the $29.9 million price tag indicates:

  • $21,234,670 would pay for the new BLMS
  • $2,074,188 would fund new classrooms at BES
  • $2,272,186 would fund new classrooms at GRE
  • $3,516,326 would fund renovations at LES
  • $892,630 would pay for land acquisition -- 79 acres on County Road 2 for the new BLMS -- and financial services associated with the bond issue.

The same proposal was placed before voters in January.

It failed, 997 or roughly 59 percent, to 695 or 41 percent. Approximately 26 percent of the registered voters marked a ballot in January.

The proposal was brought back before voters because the "issue is far too important to be decided by such a small minority," according to a school district flier.

A boom in growth and schools nearing capacity levels were also factors in again bringing the vote before the public.

School district attendance figures show:

  • BES at 94 percent capacity
  • GRE at 98 percent capacity
  • the combination middle/elementary school Linwood facility at 92 percent capacity

An approved bond issue would mean an additional $142.14 in annual taxes to the owner of a $100,000 home and an additional $213.21 in taxes to a $150,000 homeowner.

However, those figures could be even higher should a proposed bill in the Kansas Legislature receive approval. House Bill 2058 would end the state's participation for bond issues approved after June 30.

Currently, the state pays 34 percent of all new school construction, or, concerning the bond issue, $10.1 million. If the bond issue is approved, Basehor-Linwood would be eligible for those funds.

School officials have discussed contingency plans should the bond issue fail.

Those plans discussed include making the eighth grade class a part of Basehor-Linwood High School, adding modular classrooms and increasing class size to more than 30 students per room.

At the moment, the contingency plans are mere speculation as none of the plans have been approved. Also, school officials don't seem keen on any of the proposals.

"That wouldn't make anyone happy, eighth grade parents or sixth-grade parents," said Cormack, of adding eighth graders to the high school.

School Board president Kerry Mueller, speaking during a candidate's forum Monday night, spoke against adding modular classrooms.

"Frankly, (adding) modular classrooms are like pouring money down the drain," Mueller said.

"They smell. They don't hold their value. I wouldn't want to teach in there. I wouldn't want my children in there," she added.

But bond issue or not, Cormack said the school district would do what it has to, to provide quality education for its students.

"No matter what we have to do, people in schools are going to do what they can to make education a positive experience," Cormack said.

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