Archive for Friday, February 10, 2006

DAC: Propose another bond issue

Advisory council favors November question

February 10, 2006

Barring unforeseen circumstances or a drastic change of heart, the Basehor-Linwood School District will propose another bond issue in November.

School administrators reached that conclusion at Thursday night's meeting of the District Advisory Council -- a group of patrons that meet periodically to provide input on educational issues. Again, DAC members leaned heavily toward proposing another plan for new school construction.

"The bottom line is there is overwhelming support," superintendent Jill Hackett said.

The DAC, which partnered with school officials to promote a $22.9 million bond issue last year, voted Thursday on whether to propose another question. According to tallies provided by the district Friday morning, 55 DAC members voted in favor of another question, 10 voted no and 6 indicated they remained neutral.

The plan favored by the district: a $26.7 million package.

What it would pay for: a new elementary school, located on 15 acres of vacant, district-owned land west of the high school, and renovations to Basehor-Linwood Middle School and Basehor and Glenwood Ridge elementary schools.

In most aspects, it is the same plan voters rejected in Nov. 2005, by an slim 81-vote margin.

Administrators believe new school construction is the answer to classroom overcrowding and booming residential growth inside the 89-square miles of district boundaries.

Only the high school, with an enrollment of 549 students and a capacity of 960, has room to accommodate heavier enrollment. The most pressing space concern lies at Basehor Elementary School, which ranks number one on the district's list of priorities for adding more classrooms.

BES, a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade building on Leavenworth Road, has a peak capacity of 411 students. The school's 2005-06 enrollment is 387 students, which leaves the school with approximately 6 percent available room for growth.

Ranking second on the priority list is the Sixth Grade Center, a school technically part of Basehor elementary, but one located in a separate building east on Leavenworth Road. It has a maximum capacity of 168 students and an enrollment of 151, leaving it with 10 percent available room for growth.

Glenwood Ridge and the combination middle/elementary school building in Linwood also are nearing capacity. Those schools rank third and fourth on the priority list and have 15 and 20 percent available room for growth, respectively.

If approved by voters, the bond issue would provide 54 new classrooms and accommodate 1,765 more students.

Don Swartz, director of building operations in Basehor-Linwood, said there are approximately 30 subdivisions in some stage of development within district boundaries. All told, those subdivisions could account for more than 3,000 new homes.

Jerry Bailey, a Kansas State professor and facilitator of the meeting, told DAC members that their work in crafting the bond issue has been for the "common good" of the district.

"I think you've made history," Bailey said.

The Basehor-Linwood School Board is scheduled to present the bond issue proposal during its meeting Monday, Feb. 13. An official vote on whether to propose the question, which appears like a mere formality at this point, will most likely take place in March.

¢ For more bond issue coverage, see the Feb. 16 edition of The Sentinel.

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