Center School District proposes $48 million bond
By John Sharp
The Center School District’s proposed no tax increase $48 million bond issue on the April 2 ballot will fund expanding classroom space to accommodate rising enrollment, creating secure entryways at all district schools and installing energy conservation improvements designed to significantly lower the district’s utility bills.
The biggest single project to be funded if the bond issue passes is to construct a new and larger Indian Creek Elementary School on the grounds of the current undersized school where some students eat their lunch in the hallways.
District officials originally considered enlarging and remodeling the school which they consider to have design flaws, but since the cost was nearly as high as building a larger and more modern new school with a more functional design and longer life they decided that was a better use of bond dollars.
This project is estimated to cost about $18.6 million. Students will continue to use the existing school until the new one is completed. The old one then will be demolished.
Red Bridge Elementary School will be expanded to accommodate enrollment growth by adding two new classrooms on the east side of the building which will eliminate the use of mobile trailers to provide classroom space. Renovation of the cafeteria and gym are also possible if adequate funds are available.
Another classroom expansion the district is considering is to acquire and renovate a building to house the district’s pre-kindergarten program so it can be expanded to provide full-day instruction to all the 200-250 four-year-olds in the district. The current program located at Boone Elementary School does not serve all four-year-olds and is only for half the day.
Besides secure entryways, security improvements for all schools will include enhancing communications systems so staff can be rapidly notified in case of an emergency and enhancing surveillance camera systems so security personnel can monitor key areas. The overall cost of security improvements is estimated at a little over $2 million.
Energy conservation improvements which will save the district (and thus taxpayers) money by lowering the district’s utility bills while decreasing its carbon footprint will be a major portion of the renovation work at each school to be financed by the bond issue.
The district currently contracts with Navitas, a company specializing in identifying potential investments in energy efficient equipment and improved operating procedures that can pay for themselves by lowering utility bills while protecting the environment.
Replacing worn out sections of the roofs at Center High School and Middle School is nearing completion, and the school board has approved a little over $5.5 million in energy conservation improvements (with a cost totaling a little more than $7.3 million with interest costs) scheduled to begin this month and continue through November to be paid for through utility bill and operational savings and rebates from Kansas City Power & Light. Passage of the bond issue will allow energy conservation work to be expanded.
Energy conservation and other capital improvements at each school to be financed through the bond issue according to a bond campaign fact sheet include the following:
Boone Elementary — $4.2 million for a new HVAC system, ADA access improvements, LED lighting, interior door replacement, roof improvements and restroom upgrades.
Center Elementary — $1.7 million for roof improvements, LED lighting and exterior lighting upgrades, HVAC modernization and restroom upgrades.
Red Bridge Elementary — $2.6 million for main office and kitchen remodeling, roof improvements, HVAC modernization, and LED lighting and exterior lighting upgrades.
Center Alternative School — $1.3 million for ground source heating upgrades, retaining wall repairs, roof improvements, restroom upgrades and lighting modernization.
Center High School — $5.7 million for major HVAC upgrades, ADA access improvements, roof improvements, kitchen remodeling, LED lighting and restroom renovation.
Center Middle School — $4.4 million for main office and kitchen remodeling, roof improvements, HVAC modernization, LED lighting and exterior lighting upgrades and restroom renovation.
The last bond issue in the district for facility upgrades was in 2009.
The current proposal will need the approval of four-sevenths (a little over 57.1 percent) of those voting to pass.
Passage has been endorsed by the Center Education Association, South Kansas City Alliance, South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Southland Progress.