Olathe & Southwest Joco

Olathe school board outlines where bond funds would go

A $244.8 million bond up for election was one of the major topics discussed at a special joint meeting between the Olathe school board and Olathe City Council on Thursday evening.

School board members presented the city council with the reasoning behind the proposed bond, which registered voters in the school district will be able to vote on from May 22 to June 11.

If passed, the no-tax increase bond will help the district build a fifth high school, build another elementary school, improve aging facilities, heighten security and enhance technology for students, superintendent Marlin Berry told the council.

“This is not an overnight, wave your magic wand type of number,” he said. “There was a lot of thought and study that went into how and when we should pursue this bond.”

The school board also told the council that it is determined to strengthen security in the school district. There are still some elementary schools that do not have secured entrances, meaning people can walk into the building and roam around for a while without being noticed. For those schools, the school board would like to build an entry that forces people to only be able to enter the school through the main office. It would require all visitors to sign in and state their reason for visiting.

“We want schools to have daily control of who enters,” said Berry. “For example, if there’s a family or domestic dispute involving an irate parent, we want a chance to control them in the office before they get to the classrooms.”

The district also would like to build small glass spaces at middle schools, where students could safely wait for their parents to pick them up. It would also allow access to the gymnasium for athletic practices but not the rest of the school, which would be ideal for after-school hours and weekends, Berry added.

Other security features the district wants to integrate include keyless entry, exterior and interior cameras and panic alarms.

After the district updates were presented, the city council addressed the school board about exciting things happening in Olathe.

Mayor Michael Copeland pointed out that Google Fiber is coming to the city soon and that the new community center is set to be complete next year. Also, plans for an Embassy Suite conference center are going forth.