Archive for Wednesday, April 6, 2005

City passes $63M bond issues

April 6, 2005


Lawrence voters Tuesday approved a $54 million bond issue aimed at renovating, expanding and replacing buildings throughout the school district.

Voters also approved an $8.9 million bond issue for technology upgrades districtwide.

"This is great news for kids," school board member Sue Morgan said. "These projects are going to serve kids for decades to come and, in the technology area, keep us moving forward."

Morgan said board members expected design work on the buildings to begin immediately.

"We've set a very aggressive schedule for ourselves," she said.

"We want to get started as soon as we can," said board member Leonard Ortiz.

The bonds, which voters approved by 70-30 margins, will increase property taxes within the school district 2.25 mills. A mill is a tax of $1 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

The tax on a $100,000 home would increase $2.16 per month. It would increase $3.23 per month on a $150,000 home and $4.31 per month on a $200,000 home.

Erv Hodges, a co-chairman of the Vote Yes for Lawrence Kids campaign, said opposition to the bond questions was minimal.

"The only opposition I heard was a few comments that, yes, it would raise taxes," he said. "But I think it's pretty clear the public recognized the need and realized that, really, it's a very small increase. It's fiscally responsible."

Voters rejected a similar bond issue in 2003, a defeat most observers blamed on its coinciding with a board decision to close Centennial and East Heights schools.

"What we saw tonight is more in keeping with Lawrence tradition," Morgan said. "Lawrence has a long tradition of supporting kids."

These projects are included in the two bond issues:

    With approval of both school bond issues, property taxes within the school district will increase 2.25 mills. That means the tax on a $100,000 home will increase the equivalent of $2.16 per month; $3.23 per month on a $150,00 home; $4.31 per month on a $200,000 home.
  • $31.9 million to raze and rebuild South Junior High School and improve Broken Arrow School, including asbestos removal, new special-education rooms and an art room. Cafeterias in each school will be reconfigured and connected with a shared kitchen. Portable classrooms at Broken Arrow will be eliminated.
  • $16.7 million to add 35 junior high classrooms -- six at Central, 16 at Southwest and 13 at West -- modify or build gyms, and expand Southwest's cafeteria. Portable classrooms at Central, Southwest and West will be eliminated.
  • $5.4 million to renovate locker rooms and science labs, build a new entrance to the east gym and add space for three science labs at Lawrence High School and add labs for welding and other courses at Free State High School.
  • $8.9 million to expand computer networks and buy nearly 2,000 laptop computers and software, providing wireless Internet access in all classrooms and offices in the district.

"I think it'll be great," said Janet Finnestad, whose son, Jeremy, is a seventh-grader at Southwest. "The way it is now, the cafeteria is so small and so cramped kids have to go wait outside, even when it's raining."

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