Archive for Wednesday, October 10, 2001

School bond issue looms for voters

October 10, 2001

It's less than a month before USD 348 patrons vote on a $7.9 million bond issue.

"They'll be voting on the question of whether to approve a $7.9 million general obligation bond to construct and equip a three through five elementary building and renovations and additions to the junior high, Vinland and Marion Springs," Superintendent James White said.

The Nov. 6 bond issue is just the first step in a 15-year, long-range facilities plan the Baldwin School Board has laid out, which also includes the addition of a secondary school, a performing arts center and other additions and renovations.

"The board felt very strongly that it didn't want to piece meal a project together," White said. "So they developed a long-range facility plan. Plans for upgrading facilities will be about every four years."

The 3-5 elementary school was decided as the first step, he said, because of the overcrowding in the current elementary school.

"We had a committee of district parents and school officials who worked with the strategic planning committee," White said. "Currently there are 450 students in the elementary school. That's larger than what the committee and board would like to see."

He said the district sets a target number of 350 students in the elementary school.

"Once that number is reached, that triggers the next round of discussions for an additional building," he said. "Right now, we are 100 students over what we'd like."

White said the passing of the bond issue would not increase Baldwin resident taxes.

"That's one of the nice things and one of the selling points of this bond issue," he said. "We'll be able to fund the bond issue without a mill levy increase. The mill levy increase will be zero."

The 2001 bond would be paid off over a 16-year period. Because the 1992 and 1993 bond issues will be paid before the 2001 bond issue would be on the tax rolls, the mill levy would remain at the current level of 13.4.

"That's exciting to us that we won't be raising the mill levy," he said.

If the bond issue is passed, White said the state would pay 32 percent, or about $2.6 million, of the $7.9 million bond.

"One third of the bond will be provided through additional support of the state," he said.

If the bond issue isn't approved this year, White said it's possible the 32-percent state aid would not be offered at a later date.

If approved, the new school would be built on the northwest corner of the school district's 92 acres on the west edge of Baldwin.

White said the district has been trying to get the word out about the bond issue.

"We've had several public meetings about it," he said. "Our goal is to provide good information."

A bond campaign committee was formed by volunteers to help with bond issue information, he said.

"The bond campaign committee has gone around to businesses and social clubs trying to generate interest in this," he said.

People with any questions or concerns can attend the remaining two public bond issue informational meetings 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Marion Springs Elementary School or 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Baldwin City Public Library.

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