Lawrence school board members began questioning the need for some items on a list of proposed bond-funded projects Monday as they began trying to pare down the list they want voters to approve in the spring.
The board plans to ask district voters to approve a bond issue on the April 2 ballot to fund a districtwide package of building improvements, technology upgrades and an expansion of career and technical education programs for high school students.
But board members will need to hold the total package to about $93 million or less, the maximum amount of new debt the district can issue without having to seek permission from the state of Kansas.
Because the district is also retiring some old bonds this year, officials say a new bond issue of $93 million or less would not result in a tax increase, and could even result in a small property tax decrease.
During Monday night’s meeting, consultants with the design firm Gould Evans presented revised cost estimates for all the projects that have been under consideration. Those estimates included a “base” package of $85.7 million.
But some board members questioned some of the projects on that list, including technology purchases that could wear out or become obsolete before the bonds are paid off.
Board member Rick Ingram questioned an item calling for $1.38 million to purchase large flat-screen monitors that could be used in classrooms to display video material.
And board member Mark Bradford questioned another item calling for $1.5 million to purchase new administrative software to manage student and financial information.
There was also general discussion about how much of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing work needed to be funded with bond proceeds, as opposed to paying some of those costs out of the district’s ongoing capital improvements budget.
Meanwhile, the board appeared to agree on adding at least one project up to the priority list: about $1.5 million to add three early childhood education rooms at Kennedy School, bringing the total there to 10.
The board plans to vote on a final list of projects, as well as the expected costs, during a special meeting next Monday, Dec. 17. In the meantime, Superintendent Rick Doll said the administration would collect more detailed information about the items board members had questioned.
In other business, the board:
• Authorized the refinancing of bonds that were issued in 2006 in order to obtain a lower interest rate, resulting in a net savings to the district of an estimated $1.45 million.
• Received an update on the district’s graduation rates for the years 2008 through 2012.