Voters in two Lawrence-area school districts Tuesday gave thumbs up to bond issue proposals that will finance new construction, taking advantage of both the state's pledge to pick up a portion of the tab and property tax relief written into the school financing bill this year.
While Eudora and DeSoto patrons approved bond issues by a wide margin, voters in Tonganoxie defeated a bond issue that would have paid for new construction and a high school addition.
EUDORA: The $6 million bond proposal here passed by almost 2-to-1 as Eudora voters approved the bond issue by an unofficial count of 1,371 to 692.
The bonds will finance a new high school to serve about 400 students. The school is scheduled for completion in the fall of 1995. Plans call for a gymnasium to seat 1,800 and an auditorium to seat 425. The school will be built on a 46-acre district-owned site about a half-mile south of Kansas Highway 10 on Douglas County Road 1061.
The bond issue will add 16.83 mills to the district's 1993-94 levy, bringing the total estimated levy, including a 1-mill increase in the statewide general fund levy, to 57.83. The 1991-92 levy was 50.88, and the projected levy for 1992-93 is 40 mills.
A mill is equal to $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed valuation.
School district patrons defeated a $4 million bond issue in 1990 that would have paid for a new high school, and the town's high school was razed the following year because of structural problems.
Supt. Dan Bloom said the proposal approved by voters is more affordable for the district because the state will pay 39 percent of construction costs and the statewide uniform mill levy will help alleviate the property tax burden.
He added that patrons have grown aware of the district's urgent need for a new high school.
"The need coupled with the affordability was enough to convince people this was something they needed to do for their community," he said.
Bloom said school board members now will shift gears and concentrate on getting construction started.
"It's the beginning of a new phase," he said. "It's going to make us a real premiere district in the area. I'm just real happy for the students and the patrons who are going to benefit from it."
DeSOTO: Voters here resoundingly approved a $14.7 million bond issue for new construction, the fourth bond proposal to face DeSoto school district patrons in as many years. The previous three were defeated.
The bonds will finance construction of a new middle school in the eastern portion of the district, a new high school and conversion of the existing high school to a middle school for students in the western portion of the district. The new middle school will be built on an 80-acre tract on Monticello Road east of Kansas Highway 7 and north of Shawnee Mission Parkway in the Shawnee area.
The new high school will sit on a 75-acre tract to the south of the existing high school. Construction of both schools is scheduled for completion in the fall of 1994.
The DeSoto school district's 1992-93 mill levy is estimated to be 43 mills. The bond issue will add 19 mills, bringing the total to 62.
Supt. Marilyn Layman said she was excited not only about the passing of the bond issue, but also about the way it passed. "Every precinct except the city of DeSoto passed it by a 2-to-1 majority," she said, adding that voters in DeSoto cast 300 more yes votes than at the last election, approving the bond issue 501 to 461.
Layman said she thought voters were positively affected by a combination of the state school financing formula, which includes a statewide uniform levy of 32 mills, the state's agreement to fund 29 percent of new construction in the DeSoto district, and the plan itself.
"It offered every demographic area in the district something," she said.
TONGANOXIE: Voters here nixed a $9.2 million bond issue by about 18 percent of the total votes with 1,874 school district patrons voting no and 1,289 voting yes.
The bonds would have financed construction of an upper elementary school and an addition at the high school. The proposed 67,595-square-foot elementary school would have been constructed on an 80-acre tract at the southeast corner of town on Washington Street. The 36,284-square-foot high school addition would have been built on the east side of the building.
The estimated 1992-93 school district levy will drop by 13.5 mills from the 1991-92 levy of 81.189 mills. The projected levy is 55.193 mills, and the bond issue would have added 12.5, bringing the total to 67.693 mills.
Supt. Ron Burgess said he thought the main reason for the bond issue's failure was concern about the property tax burden. "It's entirely up to the school board whether to try again," he said, adding the board surely will discuss the issue at its next meeting.