Eudora schools ready for Nov. 6 bond vote
Voters in Eudora USD No. 491 will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6, to consider a bond issue to construct a new 9-12 high school in the Douglas County district. A volunteer committee (It's a K-12 Solution Committee) has been formed to educate the public about district educational challenges, the November bond issue proposal, and the plan of finance to fund the proposed improvements.
The election will request the authority to issue no more than $16 million in bonds to finance the majority of the proposed improvement budget. The balance of the estimated costs will be generated from the interest earned on the reinvestment of bond proceeds during the estimated three years of construction.
The bond issue proposal is to address overcrowding in existing school facilities and continued growth of the district's enrollment. In the last decade, enrollment in Eudora schools has grown by more than 360 students (from 839 students in 1990 to an estimated 1,202 students this year) or more than 43 percent. At a conservative estimate of only 3 percent growth, the district would have nearly 1,500 students by the 2008 school year. Overcrowding is a challenge in most of the attendance centers. The oldest building in the district, the middle school, is in need of major repairs and renovation with problems with the sewer, electrical, plumbing systems as well as the roof. This facility is also not air-conditioned.
The plan, if voters approve, would allow for the relocation of third-grade students at Nottingham Elementary to be moved to Eudora West Elementary School to free up space for more students in Nottingham to function as a K-2 building. The proposed new 9-12 high school would allow the existing high school to serve as a middle school facility with adequate space to allow the sixth grade students from Eudora West Elementary to make this facility a functional 6-8 building. The proposed 500-student new high school would be adequately sized for today's and future enrollment growth in the district.
The Board of Education believes that this is an opportune time to consider the needed improvements. Interest rates are near historically low levels. A state aid program is still available that offers to share in the bond issue payments at a 35 percent sharing ratio. The state aid program would bring approximately $10 million in additional state aid back from Topeka to assist in the interest and principal payments on the bonds.
The goal of the "It's a K-12 Solution" Committee is that every voter in Eudora USD 491 is an informed voter on election day. The committee is busy preparing informational fliers and brochures to be distributed to district patrons. The committee is also encouraging all district patrons to register or re-register for the November election. Patrons who have changed either their name or their address will need to re-register. Patrons who have not voted in recent elections may also need to re-register in order to have the opportunity to vote. The deadline to register is Monday, Oct. 22.
The election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6 and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on that date. For those that may not be in the area on election day, advanced voting will be available beginning Oct.17 at the Douglas County Courthouse in Lawrence.
The committee is busy planning a variety of things to create awareness for the upcoming bond vote. Anyone interested in becoming involved is encouraged to contact the school district offices at 542-4910 or Committee Chair Kim Schulz at 785-542-2281.