Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Jim Hinson on Monday proposed asking voters for a $223 million bond issue to pay for upgraded security, new and remodeled schools and a state-of-the-art aquatics center, among other projects.
The bond would not need a property tax increase. The board will vote at a special meeting Oct. 6 on whether to put the proposed measure on a mail-in ballot in January.
The board also will vote Oct. 6 on whether to bring before voters on the same mail-in ballot a measure to keep the local option budget at 33 percent of the general fund, an increase from 31 percent that the state Legislature allowed this year.
The local option measure would have to be decided by a mail-in vote, as required by state statute.
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In an interview before the board meeting, Hinson said that his top priorities for use of the bond money would include safety and security projects for all of the district’s school buildings; continuation of the district’s technology initiative; replacement of the district’s 20-year-old air-conditioning systems; and razing and rebuilding five elementary school buildings in the five high school feeder areas: Rhein Benninghoven, Crestview, Trailwood, Briarwood and an undetermined school in the West feeder area.
Hinson said at the meeting that the district is intently watching what’s occurring in the West area, especially the corridor including Interstate 435 and 87th and 95th streets to see whether an additional elementary school would be needed in a year or two.
His list of projects the bond measure would fund came from the findings of a facilities committee, which had started meeting in May to review the district’s needs. That effort included a review of recommendations another committee had made based on information gathered in 2011 and 2012.
Hinson also detailed at the meeting the other projects the proposed bond measure would fund:
▪ Separate cafeterias and gyms in each elementary school.
▪ Remodeling to make full-service kitchens in all schools, so that all food would be prepared where it is served.
▪ Install Taraflex floors in all elementary school gyms that have carpet.
▪ Move early education sites comprising three or four classrooms to each of the district’s five high school feeder areas, and raze the Shawnee Mission Instructional Support Center.
▪ Replace practice field turf at high schools and middle schools.
▪ Replace roofs, and floor and ceiling tiles. All buildings will need some degree of work on these items.
▪ Upgrade the little theaters in all high schools.
▪ Upgrade furniture and media centers.
▪ Perform structural work on the district stadium at Shawnee Mission South High School.
▪ Build a state-of-the-art aquatics center, which would enable hosting any meets and offering free swimming lessons for all second- and third-graders.
The district also is in talks with a YMCA for the possibility of attaching a structure to the proposed aquatics center for a YMCA facility. It would serve as a student and employee wellness center and would be open to the public. The YMCA would handle its operation. The proposal’s details haven’t been finalized.
▪ Upgrade some pools in the existing five high schools.
Hinson said that some confusion had occurred regarding whether the district sought more funding from the state. The district is asking the state to fund full-day kindergarten, he said, and the state would have to determine its cost.
The district also is asking the state to evaluate whether the funding formula is appropriate for school districts’ needs — “to make sure that it is the appropriate formula funded at the appropriate level.”
Confusion also has arisen about whether the efficiency commission could seek more funding, which it can’t, he said. Its only task is to determine whether the district could function more efficiently.
The technology rollout is moving efficiently and on schedule, Hinson said. The district has distributed 19,000 devices, including MacBooks for all high school students, iPads for all middle school students and iPads for 10 of the 33 elementary schools for grades 3 through 6. The district also provides iPads that stay in schools, for students in kindergarten through second grade.
The remaining 23 elementary schools have access to iPads while at school, and next year all students from kindergarten through sixth grade will have their own iPads, which they can take home.
The district is accommodating students who don’t have Internet access at home, Hinson said.
“Anything they need on their device they’re able to download it at school,” he said.