Archive for Wednesday, May 16, 2007

School bond vote slated for October

May 16, 2007

Basehor-Linwood School District patrons will be asked later this year to approve a multimillion-dollar bond issue to build a new elementary school, a new middle school, add six classrooms to an existing elementary school and make other improvements to other existing schools.

The Basehor-Linwood School Board on Monday night accepted a committee's plan for the bond issue proposal and scheduled a mail-in referendum for October.

The total cost of the bond issue has yet to be determined, but the main components -- building the two new schools and adding classrooms at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School -- are estimated at a combined $31 million.

Residents from throughout the district have served on a Facilities Planning Committee for several months and have met a handful of times to try to come up with the best solution for growing pains in the district.

Jeff Scherer acted as the spokesperson for the group and presented the proposed plan to board members.

"First we need a new K through five (300 student) elementary school in the northern part of the district because that is where the majority of the growth is happening," Scherer said.

The committee submitted a map showing 16 existing platted subdivisions are in the northern part of the district, compared to the eight in the middle section of the district and five in the southern area. About 1,065 potential new school-age children -- 468 of them elementary age children -- could come out of those 16 northern subdivisions.

Other parts of the proposed plan include:

  • Build a new sixth- through eighth-grade middle school in a central location east of Glenwood Ridge Elementary School. The new middle school and GRES would share amenities such as parking. The district would have to purchase the property for the middle school.
  • Add six classrooms to GRES. The building was designed for future additions.
  • Include building improvements to Basehor Elementary School, Linwood Elementary School and Basehor-Linwood High School, as recommended by the site councils.
  • Adjust elementary boundaries focusing on BES and the new elementary school site.
  • Upgrade technology throughout the district, as recommended by the site councils.

Board members questioned parts of the plan including the number of additional classrooms at GRES.

"There's a mention of six additional classrooms," vice president Pat Jeannin said. "I was just thinking that in the past it was decided there should be eight classrooms."

"When we designed that building, we designed it to be added onto in pods of four classrooms," president Randy Cunningham said.

Don Swartz, executive director of building and facilities, said the addition would be true to the original plans. Two of the new spaces will become additional bathrooms in the school, while the other six will be classrooms.

GRES principal Jan Hancock voiced her support for the new addition.

"Next year we will be sharing the art and the music room, and we really don't have space for strings or band," she said.

Another concern was raised about the size of the proposed new elementary school. Cunningham said he thought a 300-student elementary school was just too small and should be bumped up to 500.

Scherer said the committee wanted smaller elementary schools.

"Our goal was to get the elementary schools in the neighborhoods," he said. "Instead of having these big 500 (student) schools, lets get these smaller schools in our neighborhoods. That's what people want. They want to be close to the school."

Scherer said the committee's plan was beneficial to all levels of students, relives space issues at all three elementary schools and the middle school, makes room for the possibility of all-day kindergarten as well as frees up classroom space for extra activities and improves busing distances. The current Sixth Grade Center building would also have the potential to become a community education center or be sold for city usage.

Superintendent Bob Albers spoke in support of the plan.

"There was a lot of discussion about, do we take care of needs today or do we look at growth?" he said about the committee's deliberations. "It takes care of today's needs, but yet it's not overbuilding."

Other information presented to the board included rough cost estimates for each piece of plan, which are as follows:

  • New K through five elementary school - $9 million.
  • New six through eight middle school -- $20 million.
  • Addition to GRES - $2 million
  • Cost projections for other building improvements and technology upgrades will be dependent on input from the site councils.

The board agreed, 5-0, to place a bond issue before the public in October 2007 by mail-in ballot as presented by the facilities planning committee with modifications and final costs to be determined later. Board member Doug Bittel was absent from the meeting.

Albers said the district already had notified the Leavenworth County Clerk's Office about the planned mail-in ballot. He said the board chose the mail-in route because there is not a general election scheduled this year and turnout at special elections is usually slim.

A mail-in ballot will provide a better representation of what people want rather than a special election, he said.

The board will have a workshop at a later date to discuss details of the bond and talk to the architect about actual costs.

"The next step is to really hammer out all the particulars and say, 'This is what we want to put on the ballot,'" Albers said.

In other action Monday night, the board:

  • Approved, 5-0, a trip to Houston for one student and one sponsor later this month for a National Forensics Tournament.
  • Approved, 5-0, purchase of an Auto-CAD program. The computer-aided design program for students is preferred by area colleges. Cost is $6,043.

¢ Approved, 5-0, extending for another year an agreement with Apple Computers to upgrade equipment in computer labs. Annual payments are $318,415.

  • Approved, 5-0, contracts for Kathy Denney, BLHS mathematics, Tyler Hamilton, BLMS physical education and health, Kay Gordon, BLMS mathematics, Medissa Flynn, BLMS mathematics, Jarred Fuhrman, BLHS Spanish, Tiffany Mamie, BES third grade, and Lynnie Kendrick, BLMS.
  • Approved, 5-0, the resignations of Kelly Bobbit, BLMS English, Ann Decker, BLHS math, Shannon Thiele, BES kindergarten, and Lauren Widner, Sixth Grade Center.
  • Approved, 5-0, the Board of Education Policy Chapter G: Part 1 for final reading and part 2 for first reading.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.