Archive for Thursday, April 28, 2005

Historically, school bonds a tough sell

April 28, 2005

While the possibility is remote that Basehor-Linwood school officials will propose a bond issue this calendar year, it remains a certainty that a new school construction question will be put before voters in the near future.

And when that time comes, school officials will face an uphill battle in gaining voter approval for funds earmarked for new school construction, if history is any indication.

Since 1990, a year after unification between the Basehor and Linwood school districts, patrons have rejected six of seven school bond issues put before them.

The district's history of rejecting bond issues was a point of discussion during Monday night's school board work session. During the meeting, school officials unveiled results from a survey that gauged voter interest in supporting a possible $23.3 million bond issue.

Although only 12.4 percent of school district patrons responded to the survey, responses indicated 55 percent were against the proposal and 45 percent in favor.

After reviewing the results, school officials decided to wait until 2005-2006 enrollment numbers are available on Sept. 20 before making any decision on a future bond issue.

School board president Kerry Muehler said the district has attempted to maintain a proactive approach to managing an expected enrollment boom caused by area development. By proposing bond issues, the school district is hoping to stay ahead of the curve, she said.

But, "people in this district just don't see it that way," Muehler said.

School board member Douglas Bittel said he believes a future bond issue has "no prayer unless we show student growth."

"My personal opinion is this is pretty reflective of what we'd have if there was a vote today," Bittel said. He added, "I have no doubt, if we brought it today, we wouldn't get close."

The only successful bond issue came in November 1997 -- when voters approved a $16.7 million ballot question that funded additions and renovations to the existing Basehor-Linwood High School, renovations to Basehor and Linwood elementary schools and construction of Glenwood Ridge Elementary School.

The first -- and most widely rejected -- of the bond issues came in August 1990. School officials sought $5.4 million for a new elementary school on Leavenworth County Road 3, remodeling of the Linwood facility to a middle school for sixth- through eighth-graders and various remodeling and new construction at the high school.

It was the cheapest proposal of any bond issue the school district has proposed. The result was a whopping defeat of 1,648 (81 percent) against to 388 (19 percent) in favor.

Other bond issues that have been defeated have ranged from $13.4 million (November 1994) to $29.9 million (January and April 2003).

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