Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2007

BOE gears up for school year, bond

August 15, 2007

The beginning of another school year means new enrollment numbers and the push for the upcoming bond issue.

Kindergarten through ninth-grade students were back in school Tuesday and 10th through 12th graders returned Wednesday. While enrollment numbers are expected to fluctuate continuously until the official state count is taken Sept. 20, assistant superintendent David Howard listed the rough preliminary headcount for each school in the district during the school board meeting Monday night. The numbers were taken Friday, but some building principals who were at the meeting spoke up if additional students had been added since then.

Brenda DeGroot, director of the Basehor-Linwood Virtual School, said there were about 300 students enrolled so far. Basehor-Linwood High School was at 598 students.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see that over 600 tomorrow," Howard said about the high school enrollment in an interview Tuesday morning.

Basehor-Linwood Middle School had about 310 students, Glenwood Ridge Elementary School was at 283, Linwood Elementary had 121 and the Sixth Grade Center was at 137. School board members noted that Basehor Elementary had the most startling number of students at 407. The school's capacity is listed at 410 students.

Adding in special education students, the preliminary head count is about 2,192 students total, Howard said, up more than 3 percent from last year's rough count of 2,116.

But, growth is nothing new in the district, hence the reason the school board and district patrons have planned another bond issue to present to voters in a special mail-in ballot election in October. Howard updated school board members with an election campaign report during the meeting as well, which included the different campaigns that have been formed and the work that has been done so far.

Five campaigns, including voter registration, public speakers, promotional campaign, budget finance and voter return will work to inform residents of the facts of the bond issue.

"Voter registration is already up and running," Howard said. "It is to make sure all our patrons and especially parents get registered to vote."

In a meeting with Leavenworth County Clerk Linda Scheer, Howard said he was reminded that residents must re-register to vote if they have moved or changed their name since the last election. The last day to register to vote in order to receive a ballot in the mail is Sept. 25. Registered voters also may apply for an advanced ballot through the county Web site at www.leavenworthcounty.org by Oct. 4.

Public speakers representing the bond campaigns will be at school sporting events, site council, PTO and booster club meetings, as well as "Meet the Bobcats" and parent information nights at the schools. Howard said he and superintendent Bob Albers have already met with district bus drivers, food service and maintenance employees, custodians and the Basehor-Linwood Soccer Association to go through the details of the bond issue. They also plan to meet with area church leaders in the near future to inform them as well, he said.

"They come in contact with a lot of people," Howard said. "This is just to make sure those people have the correct information. My goal is not necessarily to persuade them, but to make sure they have the right information."

The promotional campaign will be placing signs, posters and buttons throughout the community to persuade people to vote "yes" on the bond issue, while the budget finance will be finding ways to fund the promotional campaign. School funds cannot be used for anything promoting "yes" votes, Howard said.

Finally, the voter return campaign will be in charge of reminding patrons to place their ballots in the mail to be counted. Voters can expect to see the ballots in their mailboxes on or after Oct. 5. Ballots must be back to the county by noon on Oct. 25. Howard said postage is taken care of on the ballots, voters simply have to mark their vote, sign and address the outside of the envelope and drop it in the mail.

"I would guess this is going to have a 70 to 80 percent turnout," he said.

The $39.9 million bond issue includes:

  • A new 400-student capacity elementary school to serve grades three through five built on 12 acres southeast of 155th and Hickory streets. It will be administered as a part of BES. Cost: $11.45 million.
  • A new 700-student capacity middle school to serve grades six through eight on land directly across 158th Street from GRES. Cost: $24.8 million.
  • An addition to GRES to include six classrooms as well as a remodel of the entrance. Cost: $2.5 million.
  • Renovations at LES, which would include relocating the office to the front of the building. Cost: $750,000.
  • A new soccer field northwest of the current high school football field. Cost: $400,000.

John McArthur, the district's financial adviser said that, if approved, the bond issue would raise the mill levy about 8.97 mills. Added onto the less than 8 mills district taxpayers are currently paying from the previous bond issue passed in 1997, the mill levy would be fewer than 17 mills, he said.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

The owner of a $100,000 home can expect to pay $103.16 in additional taxes per year or about $8.60 a month, McArthur said.

In other action Monday night, the school board:

  • Approved, 7-0, the budget.
  • Approved, 7-0, resolution 42-63: destruction of records.
  • Tabled, 7-0, the TextCaster Agreement, which will allow parents to receive text messages from the school district sponsored by Community National Bank.
  • Approved, 7-0, the AllofE Agreement. The school board agreed to pay for one month of services until accurate enrollment numbers are in Sept. 20. If the number of students does not greatly exceed the projected numbers, the rest of the agreement would be upheld. The company AllofE is redesigning the Web site for the Basehor-Linwood Virtual School.
  • Approved, 7-0, district contracts and resignations.

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