Linwood residents raise questions about school plans
Basehor-Linwood school superintendent Bob Albers and assistant superintendent David Howard were bombarded with concerns Tuesday evening about the proposed bond issue during the Linwood City Council meeting.
Albers began the scheduled bond presentation with an explanation of how the proposal was formed and went over each piece of the bond.
"The primary need that we have is for more classrooms," Albers said.
He went on to explain that the district would be preparing for all-day kindergarten and would be adding classrooms to the elementary schools.
The $39.9 million bond issue, which will be put to the district's registered voters next month in a mail-in election, includes calls for six new classrooms at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School, two for all-day kindergarten, one for art, one for music and two for additional sections. A new elementary school will be constructed to house third-, fourth- and fifth-graders within the Basehor Elementary School boundaries, allowing grades K through second to spread out in the current BES building.
Albers said no additional classrooms would be added to Linwood Elementary because there is currently only one section of kindergarten. The addition of all-day kindergarten would not affect the amount of classroom space needed, he said.
"But, as population grows in this area, I'm sure we'll have to add more classrooms here as well," he said.
However, Linwood City Council members, along with other residents, said the bond proposal did not adequately address the issues at LES.
"I went to Linwood Elementary and nothing has been done to those classrooms in I don't know how long," said Linwood City Council member Chantel Stiltner. "This elementary school is nothing compared to what they have at Glenwood Ridge and Basehor. What would motivate anybody in Linwood to vote to improve the other schools when they've got state-of-the-art equipment and we've got nothing?"
The planned construction of a new middle school will also help to alleviate space concerns at LES, Albers said. Middle school students are currently occupying five classrooms that would normally house LES students.
Building a centrally located sixth-through-eighth-grade middle school on 158th Street across from GRES would eliminate the overcrowded Sixth Grade Center and allow LES to spread out and regain the classrooms taken over by middle school students, Albers said.
"Basehor-Linwood Middle School is in dire need of more room," Albers said.
Linwood residents at the meeting expressed their vehement opposition to moving the middle school out of Linwood.
"Why is the middle school moving up to Basehor?" resident Dick Brauer asked. "Why aren't we adding on down here? I only see a one-way street here, and I wondered if there was a reason for that."
Albers said a centralized middle school made sense in the planning process in regards to busing and convenience to parents and students who live in both Basehor and Linwood. He also said that the most recent bond issue proposed in the district included extensive renovations and additions to the current middle school, and the issue failed in all precincts.
"What that tells me is people didn't think that was a good plan," Albers said.
Leanne Mathews, Linwood City Council member, suggested that perhaps the middle school renovations section on the last bond issue was not the only portion voters did not agree with and that taking the middle school out of Linwood would be detrimental to the community.
"You're taking away our junior high, which is one of our biggest assets," she said.
Residents were reminded that LES would be receiving some renovations as well, including moving the office up toward the front of the building. Moving the middle school would give LES room to grow, and any extra space possibly could be filled by various school programs including the Virtual School or YouthFriends, which would continue to make the school a viable asset in the Linwood community, Albers said.
Those in attendance continued to voice their opposition, stating that schools in Linwood needed to be updated before schools in Basehor received any more renovations or additions.
"All I've seen is bond issues passed for Basehor," said longtime area resident and district parent Whitney Foley. "Linwood has been left on the back burner every single time."
"It's just not fair and it's not right," Brauer said. "You're going to have a hard time getting people in Linwood to vote for it."
Albers and Howard encouraged residents to review the bond issue information, including the cost to homeowners, and to call the central office if there were any questions that were not addressed at the meeting.
Basehor-Linwood school board members Gary Johnson and Eric Dove, who are Linwood area residents, were also in attendance. Both said they expected this reaction from the Linwood residents because opposition has been ongoing since Basehor and Linwood schools consolidated more than 20 years ago. But, Howard said despite the disagreement, the meeting addressed questions and cleared up any confusion about the bond issue.
"I'm glad they asked questions," he said. "Part of it is to make sure the factual information is out."
Albers said that he understood the residents' concerns and hoped they could be addressed in the future.
"They have some legitimate points that we need to listen to and reasonable ideas that we need to look at," he said.