Archive for Wednesday, November 8, 2006

District plans to seek bond issue

November 8, 2006

Overcrowding is an issue the growing Basehor-Linwood School District has been facing for a while and some educators are worried that time is running out.

Superintendent Robert Albers said the school board would like to look at restructuring the grade levels in each building and present a bond issue to the community within the next 12 months to try to remedy the overcrowding.

"Looking at the calendar, the only general election coming up is a school board election next spring," Albers said. "I don't know if that would be good timing. It would have to be a special election if we want to go within the next 12 months."

Albers discussed changing the distribution of grade levels within each building with board members at the Oct. 9 school board meeting. Kindergarten through fourth grade would be in one building, fifth graders through eighth graders would be in another facility and ninth through 12th grade would make up the high school. He said a recent newspaper article he read showed that this structure would be beneficial to students.

"I think the information in that article indicated that our concept of K through four, five through eight and nine through 12, is very educationally sound," he said. "The longer a student stays in one building, the more secure they are."

School board members authorized Albers to contact an architect and start working on a proposal. Albers said he presented two ideas to Horst, Terrill and Karst Architects, which had been discussed at the meeting.

The concept would be to build one new building within the district. Either a new middle school would need to be constructed to house the fifth through eighth graders or a new high school would need to be built. The current high school would become the middle school if a new high school were constructed. Board members have not discussed what would be done with the existing middle school should a new one be built.

HTK Architects are currently working on a contract and will be at the Nov. 13 school board meeting to answer questions.

"The representatives from HTK will be there to present their proposal," Albers said. "We'll consider that contract, and if we approve it, then we'll move forward from that point."

Moving forward is key, Albers said, because the bond issue process can take a few years to have an effect in the district. With several buildings in the Basehor-Linwood district nearing capacity, Albers said they cannot afford to waste any time.

"By the time we get anything planned and voted on and construction completed, we will be in a very critical state as far as overcrowding," he said. "It's important that we find an idea that voters will approve and get moving on it."

In a district where voters have turned down seven of eight proposed bond issues, finding that idea the community will favor may prove to be difficult.

Dayna Miller, school board member, said the board cannot predict how the community will react because they put a lot of work into the last bond issue, which failed last November. She said she knows much of the discussion Monday evening will involve brainstorming ways to get the bond issue proposal out to the public and figuring out what citizens are willing to approve for the district.

"As a district, we need to do something," Miller said. "We're running out of space. It is something we need to consider and something we need to solve."

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