Olathe school bond package passes overwhelmingly

06/12/2013 12:33 AM

06/12/2013 12:33 AM

The Olathe School District will immediately begin planning to build a fifth high school and will enhance security measures at all its schools now that voters have approved a $244.8 million bond package.

Unofficial final results Tuesday from the mail-in election show the measure passed with just over 77 percent of voters saying yes. It was the 11th bond package in a row that voters have approved in a district that has been growing every year for 40 years.

“We feel very fortunate to partner with a community that is so supportive of its schools and plays such a significant role in preparing students for their future,” Olathe school board president Amy Martin said in a written statement.

Superintendent Marlin Berry said Tuesday that the district will now finalize the purchase of 80 acres at 135th Street and South Hedge Lane and begin work on a design for a $114.4 million high school. Public meetings will be scheduled to make boundary and other decisions.

A new school will be necessary by the time today’s elementary students reach high school age.

“We have more kids in our bottom four grades than in our top four,” Berry said. “We added 729 kids just this year.”

The district also will begin planning for its 36th elementary school. The 35th one, already paid for, is to open in August 2014.

The bond package also will allow the district to make improvements in its existing schools, including adding “pinch points” at 22 schools that don’t currently have them. Pinch points require that all visitors go through an office before gaining access to the rest of the school.

Berry said the district also will install more indoor and outdoor cameras and provide more keyless entries for first responders.

“This (bond package) will allow us to catch up on those things and provide a safe and secure environment for our students,” Berry said.

The bonds will not require an increase in the school district’s property tax levy. The district will finish paying off previous bonds before the new ones are sold.

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