Archive for Thursday, May 12, 2005

Basehor-Linwood district committee convinced new schools are needed

May 12, 2005

In April, members of the Basehor-Linwood district advisory council told school officials they wanted to proceed with planning and promotion of a possible $23.3 million bond issue. At the end of this month, DAC members will begin laying the groundwork for that information campaign.

The last DAC meeting of the school year is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, May 23 at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School. During the meeting, members will discuss what roles they will fill in bond committees. Discussions are expected to resume in the fall.

At the earliest, school officials will not propose a bond issue until the fall. During a work session, members of the Basehor-Linwood School Board determined that a bond issue should not be proposed until after enrollment numbers are finalized Sept. 20. Their decision came after reviewing survey results of the school district patrons, which indicated that more than half, 55 percent, would oppose a bond issue at this time.

According to school officials, the need for new schools and additional classrooms stems from an influx of new student growth the district is bound to receive in coming years. Projections indicate more than 2,000 new homes are in some stage of development throughout the 89-square mile school district.

DAC members are convinced that residential development will occur at such a rate that enrollment numbers will steadily increase and that a bond issue is a way to brace schools for that growth. Some schools are already nearing capacity: school officials said it wouldn't take a significant enrollment increase at either Basehor or Glenwood Ridge elementary schools to drop available capacity to below 10 percent.

If approved, the bond issue would pay for a new elementary school at an as-of-yet undetermined location. However, construction of the proposed new school would take approximately three years to build.

A stop-gap measure for the school district to deal with an influx of new students during that time could be to add mobile units -- trailers, essentially -- or increase student to teacher ratios.

Neither of those measures are desired, and school officials and DAC members alike believe those options are short-term solutions to a long-term problem. The measures are also not consistent with improved student learning, bond issue proponents said.

While the bond issue and upcoming information campaign will be the focus of the May 23 DAC meeting, members are also scheduled to discuss progress made this year in areas designated as top priorities -- curriculum, instruction, communications and quality teachers and staff.

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