Archive for Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bond defeat likely topic for upcoming board meeting

Final election tally shows 81-vote loss for district

November 10, 2005

The final tally may be different, but the result is the same: Another school bond issue proposed in Basehor-Linwood, another defeat.

Following a vote canvass Friday morning, the Leavenworth County clerk's office released the final voting numbers from a Nov. 1 Basehor-Linwood school district bond issue, which voters rejected by 90 votes.

County clerk Linda Scheer said 15 provisional ballots were added to the overall total during Friday's canvass, which the county commission oversaw. The provisional ballots trimmed the margin of defeat to 81 votes -- 1,197 against to 1,116 in favor -- but did nothing to change the overall result.

The bond issue failed in all three voting precincts.

The bond rejection was the seventh time Basehor-Linwood voters have said no to a bond issue in the last 15 years. Before a 1997 question passed, voters turned down four bond issues -- placed on the ballot between 1990 and 1996. The other failed attempts occurred in 2003 and Tuesday night.

The $22.9 million bond issue would have paid for a new elementary school and upgrades to all other schools in the district except Basehor-Linwood High School. The bond issue was the school district's response to residential growth throughout the Basehor and Linwood communities.

On the heels of Tuesday night's defeat, Basehor-Linwood Superintendent Jill Hackett said administrators had not yet begun looking at contingency plans.

This week, Hackett said no formal discussions have taken place among school district policy makers regarding how to accommodate an increase in students.

"It's a bit early," Hackett said. "I think it will be on the board agenda for (November 14) and we may select a time to discuss it in workshop."

School board president Kerry Muehler said that she doesn't believe there is a consensus among the board as to what to do next, but that school officials must still strive to provide "educational parity" for all schools in the district.

"Right now I don't think there is an opinion into what we do next," Muehler said. "But there is a need (for better, expanded schools). We think this was a very good plan that addressed all needs.

"We can't have one building that is inferior to others. All students across the district deserve the best we can provide."

The board president also chalked up the election defeat to "voter apathy."

"There was not enough voter turnout. The 'yes' voters didn't get out."

The District Advisory Council -- a group of area residents who helped craft and promote the bond issue plan -- will weigh in on the discussion as to future building plans. The DAC will meet next in January, and the Nov. 1 vote will be a primary topic of discussion, school officials said.

Possible plans for dealing with additional students may include rearranging grades, broadening the scope of operations at the high school, increasing the student-to-teacher ratio and adding modular classrooms.

The last option, placing modular classrooms outside existing schools, is considered an expensive, short-term solution by many school officials and it's questionable how much support that possibility would receive from board members, Muehler said.

"In the past, we have not been in favor modular classrooms," the board president said. "They're expensive and they depreciate in value so rapidly and they're an eyesore. ... We don't believe they provide a very good educational environment for the students."

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