Patrons of Eudora School District 491 will decide the fate of a controversial $4 million bond issue to finance a new high school in the Nov. 6 general election.
The bonds would help fund a proposed $5.25 million school to be built on 46 acres of land about a half-mile south of Kansas Highway 10 on the west side of Douglas County Road 1061. Approval of the bond issue would raise the district's mill levy by about 26 mills, say district officials. A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed valuation. On a $50,000 home, this would increase the annual property tax by about $156.
The 71,000-square-foot building, designed by PKG Design Group, would provide 19 classrooms, a gymnasium, kitchen, auditorium, gym locker area, music room and library. It would accommodate 350 students with the potential for growth up to 600 students.
THOSE IN favor of issuing the bonds maintain that the proposed school would serve all the necessary functions at the lowest cost possible. It would encourage growth in Eudora while easing the crowding in the schools, they say.
"This community is not going to dry up and blow away," said Supt. Dan Bloom. "This is a wonderful community and it's a growing community. In my opinion, the community and the school have to have this facility and now is the time to build."
Opponents of the bond issue say school board members rushed into formulating the proposal without considering other options. The city can't handle the additional tax burden, they say. Many also would like to see the existing building renovated before constructing new facilities.
Dennis Bonebrake, Eudora patron and member of a group in opposition to the proposed bond issue, said the proportion of the bond issue to the city's assessed valuation would compare to Lawrence issuing $150 million in general obligation bonds to build a school.
"This group has not been for no new school, but for one that we can afford, one that the entire community can back," he said.
ON JULY 12, the state fire marshal declared the 72-year-old south portion of Eudora High School unsafe for occupancy, and the Eudora School Board voted to raze the building.
However, 11 Eudora patrons signed a petition calling for a review of the fire marshal's order. Nine signatures were required to force a review of the order, which eventually was upheld by the State Department of Education.
A group of 183 citizens later submitted a petition to force a public vote on issuing general obligation bonds to renovate the high school, but the county attorney found the document to be invalid because of technical flaws.
ON AUG. 6, the board announced the $4 million bond issue, but was forced to apply to the Kansas Board of Education for permission to hold the election because the bond issue would push the district past the statutory debt limit of 14 percent of its assessed valuation. The state board approved the request.
About 60 district patrons showed up at the Oct. 8 school board meeting to hear a report by David Evans, co-owner of the Lawrence firm Gould Evans Architects, on the costs of renovating the high school. Evans said the building could be restored and brought up to code for $1,029,000, or about $61 per square foot. The board reported the cost of razing the school to be $34,000.
Other area voters have bond issues to decide in the Nov. 6 election.
HERE'S A SUMMARY of those issues.
Jefferson County voters will decide whether to issue $3.5 million in general obligation bonds, which would finance a new jail and law enforcement center.
Residents also will be voting on a 1 percent sales tax, which would be sufficient to retire the general obligation bonds within 20 years. If voters approve the sales tax, no property tax increase would be assessed to fund the project.
DeSoto School District 232 patrons will head to the polls to decide whether to issue $7 million in general obligation bonds to pay for an addition to the district's high school, renovation of the junior high school and construction of a new elementary school.