Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2010

USD 464 ‘proactive’ in bond planning

November 4, 2010

Lessons learned in Tonganoxie USD 464’s last successful bond issue are being applied as the district starts the design phase for a bond referendum expected to be put before voters in five months.

USD 464 Superintendent Kyle Hayden said the district did not do a thorough job of identifying infrastructure needs before asking voters in November 2004 to approve the $23.4 million bond issue that built the new middle school.

“In the previous bond issue, some details and cooperation did not occur until after bond issue was passed,” Hayden said. “That’s really too late.

“We want to be proactive. If you don’t do that and have discussions upfront, you could have a financial shortfall that doesn’t leave enough money to get done what you need to do.”

The most glaring example from 2004 was the need for a new water tower, which was completed in late 2006. The district eventually agreed to pay $150,000 of the $542,000 water tower’s cost.

The process to assure the 2004 experience wasn’t repeated has already begun. Hayden said he started meeting with Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez six months ago to discuss the repercussions of a bond issue. That cooperation would continue in the coming months and would involve Horst, Terrell and Karst — the Overland Park architect firm the board selected Oct. 25 to design the new school.

The firm’s architects and engineers have already started a series of site reviews needed to determine the exact location and design of the new elementary school to be built on the district’s 80-acre south campus, Hayden said. That process will also identify infrastructure needs, he said.

Traffic would probably be the big concern, because water, sewer and electrical lines were brought to the south campus with the construction of the middle school and with the understanding more schools would be built at the site, Hayden said.

Adding 600 students to the south campus would require street improvements, Hayden said, and he identified the same two candidates from street improvements as Tonganoxie City Council members pegged in its recent discussion of a successful bond issue’s repercussions: the extension of 14th Street to U.S. Highway 24-40 and extension of East Street from Washington Street to 14th Street.

Those street improvements have been a topic of his conversations with Yanez, as were their costs and responsibility, Hayden said. It is hoped the city and the district could take advantage of state and federal grants to reduce the local costs of those improvements, he said.

Hayden said district officials would meet with the design team this week to discuss a schedule for the architects to complete a preliminary plan of the new school. The goal is that the plan be finished in a bit more than two months, he said. The process would involve discussions with the city and its engineers to identify infrastructure needs and costs, he said.

“The hope is to get a preliminary plan with hard numbers on costs and pretty solid plan as far as what the facility looks like by mid-January,” he said. “Before we can put this out as a bond resolution, we want to make sure we have solid figures and know who is paying for what. The next couple of months are critical.”

That timeframe would give the community two months to become acquainted with the new school plan and upgrades planned at the high school and current elementary before an April 2011 bond referendum and allow the district and the city for further discussions of infrastructure needs.

Meanwhile, the Tonganoxie City Council has already started talking about what a successful bond issue would mean for the city with an expressed interest in avoiding a repeat of the 2004 experience.

Council members have said they would like a joint meeting with the board about the bond, but it was agreed the city first needed an understanding of what would be required. To that end, Yanez sent a letter Oct. 18 to Hayden listing the infrastructure concerns the city would like the district engineers and architects to consider when designing the new school. On the city’s list were:

• Traffic requirements and concerns for Washington and Pleasant streets, possible new roadways for East and 14th streets and a reminder that all road upgrades meet city width, curb and gutter, stormwater and lighting standards. Answers to the traffic questions would probably require a traffic study, the letter states.

• Peak demand water consumption and fire protection needs for the new school so that it can be met without affecting surrounding neighborhoods.

• Sewer capacity demands.

• Stormwater drainage planning.

• Conformity of the school’s plan and future streets with the city’s recently adopted master plans for pedestrian and bicycle pathways.

Yanez told the council at its Oct. 25 meeting that a joint meeting with the USD 464 board should be scheduled when the architect developed a plan.

For his part, Hayden said the district understood the need for cooperation on the development of a site that would spur further expansion in Tonganoxie.

“This is an important project not only for students and their families but also the economic development of Tonganoxie,” he said. “There’s a vested interest to see this goes well, and we end up with a product we both feel good about.”

Comments

Silence 4 years, 1 month ago

As I can agree to providing our youth with the best possible facilities in which to gain the best possible education. I can only shutter at the thought of even contemplating the idea of a bond issue in the midst of this, our great depression. As it remains today are unemployment rate stands high, and the potential job market is not promising. I would ask, can the good residents of this town, and the town itself handle spending money on this right now? Or could we find other not so costly projects that could use our attentions, while keeping our coffers with some sort of resources, rather than IOU's? Like I said in the beginning, I am for having the best facilities. Yet I think right now would be the wrong time to ask the residents of this town, to give more than they are possibly able to give, only to exacerbate the trails faced today.

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Old_Vet 4 years, 1 month ago

I am looking at the pro's and con's of a bond issue and building. I am undecided at this time. I don't know if we can afford the facelift on the elementary school and the high school can probably wait.

Pro's: Bond interest rates at all time low, will save "millions". Building materials have stayed steady and in some instances dropped in price Building labor is lower now than three years ago Infrastructure (Power/Water/Sewage) capability is good this time Schools overcrowded (one board member commented on security at the Elementary School)

Con's: Economy doesn't appear to be growing, Tax Burden is difficult in this tough time Infrastructure concerning roads is insufficient to handle additional traffic load on 8th. Property values poised to drop significantly affecting revenues negative growth this year for student enrollment Last bond issue we were supposed to get science labs, did we? Staff growth and associated costs? I haven't heard anything on staff, will there be new principles, lunch ladies, maintenance and buses?

I just don't know, we need more information. I'm leaning toward the value of purchasing now as it would be foresighted if / when the economy rebounds.

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Silence 4 years, 1 month ago

Old Vet, I will agree with your assessment of the situation, and not to harp on your screen name, but it does appear as though your supposed age has brought you some insight into this. Looking at your pro's I agree as to the drastic reduction in prices, and interest rates, does make it almost ideal. Although, looking at the con's one would answer, no we did not get the science labs. Also as an added bonus the new Middle School, is still today plagued by problems, and almost gremlins that can not seemed to be fixed. I am not so naive as to believe that all new construction does not have it's fair share of problems. Yet when something as simple as functioning clocks on classroom walls can not be reached, I question the need of new, versus fixing what is suppose to be new. I am also taken by surprise at the number of false alarm fire calls that appear to be happening at the Middle School. This is a safety concern that should have been resolved immediately for the sake of not only the students, and staff of the middle school, but our community as a whole. I know we all need to learn from our mistakes, yet I have to ask have we learned if we continue to have problems that can not seem to be resolved on a facility that in itself is only still in its youth. Yet you are correct in your thought of purchasing now, but I ask, as more good people loose there sources of income, and our taxes are raised, and values decline is now the time? Of course this is only keeping a very narrow sighted view of the current economy, and our quiet little town.

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only1 4 years, 1 month ago

This town has good people, but it lacks vision. Let's be pro-active! I'm one of the people that isn't in great financial shape, but I don't want my children and grandchildren to have a second rate education. We don't hesitate spending our money on SUV's, gasoline, brand name clothing, eating out, etc... but we want to use the economy as an excuse for not having great facilities for our kids. Like I said, Tonganoxie is a nice little town and has good people, but we need to quit making excuses of why our facilities (that serve our kids) are behind every school our size.

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straightup 4 years, 1 month ago

What does a building have to do with a top rate education? The enrollments has went down in the last few years. This means less kids in a class room. So how could we be busting at the seams for room. A building were kids sit to learn is not the answer to get the best education they can get! We are still paying for the new middle school shouldn't we wait before we jump into another bond? I think it is to early to be asking us to pass another bond. Slow down your spending. Come up with a better way to give our kids a top rate education.

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only1 4 years, 1 month ago

A better way or a different way? Maybe you should offer a solution then. Alot of naysayers vs. a new bond, but not many solutions. Facilities are necessary. Visit the schools.

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