Archive for Thursday, September 9, 2010

District touts $39.9 million bond issue allocations

Basehor-Linwood Middle School students listen to their teacher in one of the new school’s science labs. The classrooms are just one of the features the new building has to offer its students.

Basehor-Linwood Middle School students listen to their teacher in one of the new school’s science labs. The classrooms are just one of the features the new building has to offer its students.

September 9, 2010

A tour of the Basehor-Linwood school district may be enough to convince anyone of the power of just a few votes.

Students experiment in science labs instead of reading from books. Choirs and bands practice on risers, rather than in cafeterias or hallways. Kindergartners stay at school all day.

And all of it happened because of 35 votes.

Nearly three years after Basehor-Linwood School District voters approved a $39.9 million bond issue by that margin, the major projects are almost finished. The new Basehor-Linwood Middle School at 15900 Conley Rd., the last and the priciest of the projects, has been open for nearly three weeks, though it still awaits some finishing touches, such as a sewer connection and gymnasium bleachers.

All in all, the projects the district planned when it proposed the bond issue will likely be completed under budget by a few million dollars.

Here’s a budget breakdown:

• Superintendent David Howard said he projects the new middle school, for which the district originally budgeted about $24.8 million, will be finished with a total cost of about $21 million.

• Basehor Intermediate School, 15241 Basehor Boulevard, the other new building provided for by the bond issue, cost the district $10.5 million compared with a budget of $11.5 million, Howard said.

• A six-classroom addition at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School cost the district $2.3 million in all, versus a budgeted $2.5 million.

• Improvements at Linwood Elementary School cost the district $1 million, compared with an announced budget of $750,000.

• And a new soccer field at Basehor-Linwood High School was right on budget at $400,000.

Howard said the district would use the extra money provided by the bond issue to cover improvements to the high school’s football field, including an artificial surface and a new track.

“For the most part the projects have gone pretty smoothly,” Howard said.

Though the projects have come in under budget, the district has raised its bond mill levy by about 12 mills since 2007, when the bond issue was passed. When the district proposed the bond issue, it projected an increase of about 9 mills.

Howard said the higher-than-expected increase could be chalked up to the housing market downturn that has taken place since then. Property values have not grown at the rate projected at the time the bill was passed, meaning the district had to raise its levy by a higher percentage to meet its bond obligations.

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

At the new middle school, those taxes have helped provide an experience that’s better for students in many ways, said principal Mike Wiley.

“The biggest thing that you notice as you walk in — you’ll see students that are able to spread out in classrooms and be more active in their learning as opposed to being more confined in the past,” Wiley said.

Wiley said state-of-the-art science labs allow students to explore scientific concepts instead of just reading about them. Thanks to dedicated rooms for the choir and band, the groups’ practices can more closely resemble their performances. Before, Wiley said, they would practice in cafeterias or multipurpose rooms.

New classrooms include improved technology, such as LCD projectors in each room, which allow teachers to use online resources and put class materials on the web. And everyone has a bit more room to breathe.

“We’re just absolutely loving our space,” Wiley said.

Teri Boyd, principal of Basehor Elementary School and the new Basehor Intermediate School, said the building of the intermediate school solved a lot of space problems, as well.

“I was packed,” Boyd said.

She said that some of the elementary school’s support staff — its occupational therapist, physical therapist and others — did not have classrooms out of which to operate and had to share space in a book storage room. Now those staff members have their own classrooms.

“It has just helped a lot with serving students with special needs,” Boyd said.

The new intermediate school, Boyd said, was ideally designed for classroom instruction, with classrooms clumped together in one section of the building to eliminate distractions from other activities going on nearby.

The space opened up by the intermediate school, along with the addition to Glenwood Ridge Elementary, also allowed the district to offer full-day kindergarten across the district. The Glenwood Ridge addition also opened up rooms for the band and orchestra, which were practicing in the hallways, said Kaci Brutto, district communications coordinator.

Comments

sunflowersue 4 years, 3 months ago

"Though the projects have come in under budget, the district has raised its bond mill levy by about 12 mills since 2007, when the bond issue was passed. When the district proposed the bond issue, it projected an increase of about 9 mills.

Howard said the higher-than-expected increase could be chalked up to the housing market downturn that has taken place since then. Property values have not grown at the rate projected at the time the bill was passed, meaning the district had to raise its levy by a higher percentage to meet its bond obligations.

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

The bond issue was not passed for a new track and artificial turf for the football field. If the projects came in under budget then the money should not be spent and the taxpayers should get the break. Particularly in light of the fact that the bond only passed by 35 votes and that was after how many attempts?

In this day when people are having trouble making ends meet due to the economy it is unconscionable to spend money on non-essentials just because you can. That's what got this country into the financial mess it's in now.

SHAME on Superintendent Howard and the rest of the school board

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falconlakes 4 years, 3 months ago

I agree 100 percent with sunflowersue. The money saved was our money; not the schools to spend on a football field. The district is well aware that this would have failed if the field had been included in the original proposal.

This is the last Basehor school bond we will ever vote yes on.

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basehorlovin 4 years, 3 months ago

why don't you two shut your traps? This community has gotten new wonderful facilities for our students-they can't give the money back to you. Be happy the money is going to a worthy cause and a board and administrators that want what is best for the kids. The construction came in under budget and they spent the money on something that they thought would benefit a large number of students. If the construction had gone over budget you would be squawking too~ Get over it.

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