USD 329 Board to consider bond issue to meet facility challenges

At the November 18th board meeting, the USD 329 school board will consider a bond issue that will have a major impact on the district.

“It’s been a long, thought out process that started with BOE discussions regarding aging facilities that were taking a lot of budget money,” superintendent Brad Starnes said. “It was hard to budget for and we didn’t have the budget money to solve the problem.”

Currently USD 329 is operating with five different buildings for Kindergarten through 12th grade that are spread throughout three towns. These facilities have been in the district for many years and are in need of some maintenance concerning issues such as leaking roofs and HVAC work.

“The district wants to fiscally invest as much money as possible into our students,” Starnes said. “If we’re having to invest big money into facilities that takes money away from investing money into our students, but you can’t provide a good learning environment if the roofs continue leaking and the heaters aren’t working.”

HTK Architectural evaluated buildings last year and came up with a list of plans regarding possible renovations and other facility options to present to the Board of Education.

A building committee of district employees and community members was tasked with going through the proposed plans and selecting the best options. This committee landed on option number 11.

“When you own a vehicle and it’s giving you some trouble, do you trade it and get a new/different one or do you continue fixing it until it dies.”

— Superintendent Brad Starnes

Option 11 consists of many big building changes for USD 329. These changes include closing Maple Hill Elementary and Paxico Middle School and moving Alma Elementary students. Grades Pre-K through 6 will move to the existing Junior High building in Paxico which would be rebuilt to accommodate the changes. Grades 7-8 would move to WHS.

Other changes anticipated in the new building plan include the elimination of all modular buildings in the district and resurfacing of both the high school gym floor and the gym floor at the existing junior high building.

“By providing the community with accurate factual information they can see we have problems and can help the district in how they’d like to see those problems solved,” Starnes said.

The Board will vote Monday evening whether to move forward with Plan 11 and the bond. If the motion passes, the Board will have a number of steps to complete in order to stage the Special Bond Election April 7.

“When you own a vehicle and it’s giving you some trouble, do you trade it and get a new/different one or do you continue fixing it until it dies,” Starnes said.

“Do you put good money into deteriorating buildings?  What is the most effective way to provide our students the best possible educational experience in preparing them to be successful beyond Wabaunsee Schools?”

— Hannah Mumpower, @Hlmump01

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