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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Schools gear up for bond issue

  • Local school officials have set the wheels in motion and will soon try to convince voters to approve a bond issue for about $11 million. They need the money to increase safety and security in the schools, and to make some major repairs throughout the district.
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  • By James Jordan
    The Wellington Daily News
    Local school officials have set the wheels in motion and will soon try to convince voters to approve a bond issue for about $11 million. They need the money to increase safety and security in the schools, and to make some major repairs throughout the district.
    At the last board meeting the board voted to move ahead with the special election that is to be held June 24. Since then paper work has been filed and USD 353 officials are getting a committee together to try to get the issue passed.
    The project would improve security at all the schools by improving how well people can see out of the building from the front desk. It would also get schools in shape so there would be only one door unlocked during the day and access would be much more limited.
    This proposal was made to the board a few months ago, with an estimated cost of around $3 million. Since then board members met with site councils and found out about other needs in the district, including safe rooms or tornado shelters, and an additional gym for the middle school.  
    Those proposals raised the price to around $11 million. The question for the special election will
    ask for the entire project to be approved.  Voters approved a similar bond issue in 2001 that resulted in the construction of the high school. That bond issue passed 1848 – 1522.
    Superintendent Rick Weiss said the shock of school shootings, and other mass shootings, has raised awareness to the point that people want more protection and security for children.
    Once the project is completed all people will have to enter schools through the school office and there will be a vestibule, or area, where people will have to stand before being admitted.
    Other projects that have been added include two new classrooms at Kennedy Elementary, which will replace two portable classrooms There are also several roofs that need to be replaced. Heating and air conditioning also need to be addressed at Lincoln and Eisenhower Elementary Schools.
    Weiss and other school officials say now is a good time to take on such a project because of financial options available. There is a weighting system based on the wealth of the district, and based on that formula, the state will pay 52 percent of the total cost.
    The bond issue would raise taxes 2.5 mills, or about $25 per year on a $100,000 house. Taxpayers are still paying on the 2001 issue that raised taxes, and that one will end in 2021. At that time taxes would be lowered and would absorb a lot of the one being proposed now.
    Depending on things like interest rats, “our patrons could see a decrease,” said Weiss.
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