Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2005

School board moving forward with bond issue

July 14, 2005

With most of its seven members having participated in a local group that formed the plan, it came as no surprise that the Basehor-Linwood school board on Monday formally approved the District Advisory Council's recommendation regarding a plan for new facilities.

The decision Monday night was deferred from a meeting in June. The board delayed its decision until new school board members Gary Johnson and Randy Cunningham took office.

The $23.3 million plan formulated by the DAC after two years of meetings would pay for a new elementary school -- at an undetermined location -- as well as expansions and renovations to existing schools in the district.

The bond issue is administrators' answer to handling a growth surge expected to come with new residential developments being built within the district's boundaries. According to school district research, 3,070 homes are approved for building and more than 1,050 additional homes are in the planning stage.

Using a 0.43 students per home formula, the district could see an infusion of 1,320 new students in coming years from the 3,070 homes primed for construction.

School Superintendent Jill Hackett said, "It's an exciting time for Basehor-Linwood schools."

But she tempered enthusiasm by highlighting how important the bond issue is.

She said an approved bond issue would pay for 53 new classrooms scattered throughout the district.

Next week, on Monday, July 18, school board members and district officials will host a meeting to begin war-room planning for proposing the bond issue. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the school district office.

The District Advisory Council is a group of area patrons who have met periodically for the past year and a half to discuss educational issues.

The prime concern for the group centered on forging a plan for future facilities.

After discussing new facilities, the DAC overwhelmingly supported proposing a bond issue. Considering Basehor-Linwood's history of rejecting far more bond issues than it approves, passing a new school construction question will take a similar effort.

On Monday night, Mark Franzen, an architect with Horst, Terril and Karst Architects, the school district's design firm, said his firm has designed proposals for several school districts in the past. Some of those districts have chosen to use a mail-in ballot during those questions.

Franzen said a mail-in ballot is more expensive and doesn't necessarily equal a positive outcome. Putting forth a solid, educational campaign before voters has been the key ingredient to most successful bond issues, he said.

"Traditional ballots seem to work well," Franzen said. "It just comes back to educating the community."

School officials have said they will wait until after Sept. 20, the date next year's official attendance figures will be finalized, before putting the question to voters.

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