Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2004

District pares possible school scenarios

School concepts, costs to be shared

November 24, 2004

Basehor-Linwood School District administrators and school board members pared down some possibilities for new school construction scenarios and will present a revised list to the district advisory council later this month.

During a work session Thursday, Nov. 18, school officials met with architects from Horst, Karst, Terril Architects, the district's design firm, to discuss possible scenarios.

After tweaking the list, administrators came away from the meeting with a list of 12 possibilities for new school construction. The scenarios include every area of the school district except for one: Basehor-Linwood High School.

The high school, which received major renovations several years ago, is in no danger of exceeding capacity, school officials report.

The list of scenarios school administrators will present to the advisory council includes:

  • Additions to Basehor and Glenwood Ridge elementary schools that would bring those schools up to district-identified standards of having three classrooms per grade level.
  • Retrofitting the current combination middle/elementary Linwood facility into a middle school only. Also discussed was a similar concept changing the Linwood facility into an all elementary school.
  • Three different designs for a new elementary school.
  • Four different designs for a new middle school.
  • A possible renovation and addition to the current middle school.

Costs for the scenarios vary between approximately $1 million on the low end and $16.6 million on the high side; school officials said it's too early to determine which of the possibilities may be part of a future bond issue.

Basehor-Linwood School District superintendent Jill Hackett said the advisory council -- a board of volunteers that meet periodically to weigh in on educational issues -- will be presented with the "menu" of options during its Nov. 30 meeting. At the meeting, the advisory council will begin shaping what options it finds "suitable for this community," Hackett said.

Hackett, who visited with several community groups and gathered opinions for nearly a year before moving forward with the recent discussions centered on new facilities, said the school district has no timetable for a possible bond issue.

It's important first to gather more input from the community before proposing another bond issue, she said.

"We did a lot of talking, a lot of going to groups and asking informal questions of the public," she said. "Truly, if you ask a group what they're thinking, they'll tell you.

"I think (the public) is fully aware I want them involved in DAC to give us feedback. It's awfully hard to make a decision unless you have the right information."

The district's ginger approach to new school construction is a sound practice given the fate of bond issues in the past. Just last year, two $29.9 million bond issues failed at the polls.

At the advisory council meeting, new school drawings as well as cost analysis and property tax impacts for each of the proposed school possibilities will be shared, school officials said.

The school district is open to any suggestions the advisory council might have, said Don Swartz, school district director of building operations.

"The district is not proposing any one of these as a solution right now," Swartz said. "We have no preconceived idea as to what ones we should or shouldn't do."

However, whatever course of action the school district proceeds with would have to upgrade facilities that district officials believe may soon be overcrowded with new students.

Whether that prediction holds true is up to conjecture. Estimates from the school district and the Kansas Association of School Boards contradict each other.

According to district research based on the number of homes in some stage of planning within the school district, 2,200 residences, the school district can expect approximately 946 new students in the future. The number of new students is found by multiplying the new homes by an average of .43 students per home.

By contrast, research completed by the association of school boards indicates the district can expect just 144 new students over the next 5 years. The KASB numbers are based on trends from the past six years in Leavenworth County and the school district.

"On one hand, you're dealing with the realities of the past," Swartz said. "On the other, you're looking at all these new homes that could come in over the next 10 years, or the next 2 to 3 years if there is a spike.

"The variable factor is how fast those homes fill in."

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