Special question awaits Stanton County voters

3/28/2014

By Mary Clarkin

By Mary Clarkin

Special to the Telegram

JOHNSON CITY — There would be just one public school building in Stanton County if voters approve a $23.9-million bond issue Tuesday.

The current elementary school for Stanton County USD 452 was built in 1952 and an addition was constructed in 1963. The need for more space — temporary classrooms are used for some grades — and the desire for an upgraded facility led to a plan to:

* Construct a large addition on Stanton County Junior/Senior High School, Johnson City, to serve as a pre-kindergarten through Grade 6 elementary school.

* Update, remodel and expand space serving the Junior/Senior High;

* Build a new gymnasium and provide new athletic ball fields;

* Place a single school kitchen between a dining hall for elementary school students and a separate dining hall for older students, and consolidate administrative offices.

* Demolish the current elementary school in Johnson City.

The proposed 20-year bond issue would add 26.5 mills to the current levy of about 36.410 mills, one of the lowest USD levies in the state. The construction project would take about 20 months to complete. Voters in Stanton County — and a few voters in Grant County — are eligible to cast a ballot.

"Considering what it's for, I expect a good turnout," said Stanton County Clerk Sandy Barton.

At first, the idea of creating a single campus for pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 caused "a little bit of concern," said school board member Heather Waldron. But it was pointed out there will be separate drop-off points and entrances for Stanton County Junior/Senior High School students and for Stanton County Elementary School students. There will be separate dining halls, too, she said.

This is the first attempt by the school district to pass this bond issue. Waldron said there is no organized opposition.

USD 450 Superintendent Angela Lawrence said the school board "has been working on this project close to two years." A community task force and nine public meetings have been part of the effort to reach out to people, Lawrence said.

Because the current Stanton County Elementary School is in a residential area, Lawrence said, neighbors were concerned about what would happen to the old building if it was vacated.

The district listened to those concerns and included demolition of the building in the bond issue, Lawrence said.

Stanton County USD 452 has approximately 467 students. About 46 percent of the students are Hispanic.

The Kansas Association of School Boards tracks the 1-1 outcome of school district special elections and for the most recent year available — 2012 — there were 21 ballots across the state that asked voters to raise taxes for schools. All but five of the special questions passed.

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