Archive for Thursday, March 8, 2007

Board OKs bond issue priorities

March 8, 2007

The Eudora USD 491 Board of Education straightened out its priorities Thursday for a 2007 bond issue.

After conducting a phone survey in January and gleaning information from district staff and a community advisory committee Feb. 27, Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza presented an eight-tier plan for the estimated $40 to $50 million bond referendum.

"When we talk about this bond, it could change the entire face of the Eudora community in almost every aspect," Kobza said. "It really can."

District officials have said they would like to put a bond question before

voters in November.

The bond's top priority would be a new elementary school to house first-through fifth-graders. Initial plans call for the structure to be built with five separate pods for each grade over an area spanning at least 110,000 square feet. Each pod would be capable of accommodating 200 students.

The opening of the new elementary school would put an end to the use of Nottingham Elementary School as an attendance center, Kobza said.

"That's OK. In fact, that should happen according to this group," Kobza said.

The advisory committee was comprised of 45 community members. The group toured the district and its facilities at one of its meetings.

Eudora West Elementary School, which currently houses third- through fifth-grade students, would become a preschool center. To accommodate the younger students, the bond would provide money for the construction of restrooms and storage areas at the school.

The district plans to build a new sixth-grade center at Eudora Middle School and readjust the school's kitchen and dining areas.

One project moved up on the priority list after the discussion of the district advisory committee was an auditorium for the high school

The auditorium would be built where the south wall of Eudora High School's commons area currently stands. It was included in the design of the high school but delayed for a future phase as a cost-saving measure when construction on the building started five years ago.

Noting the new auditorium would relieve scheduling conflicts for use of the district's current auditorium at Eudora Middle School, committee members moved the auditorium up from a lower priority optional list, district communications director Kristin Magette said.

Another phase two project would be a new classroom pod onto the high school with an addition of three science classroom.

The bond would also cover the construction of a new technical education center to house the district's vocational programs. The district partners with De Soto USD 232 to train students in skills ranging from culinary arts to automotive collision repair. The technical center would also house a classroom for a planned biotechnology course, Kobza said.

The district would also build a new football, soccer and track stadium south of Kansas Highway 10. The stadium concept was also popular with the community advisory committee, Kobza said.

Kobza presented the board with his vision of an operations center that would provide space for more than just the district home offices. The center could house the city library and provide a home for the Eudora Area Historical Society, he said.

"To me, it's a very, very powerful thing," Kobza said.

The district would also use bond monies to improve school security and to fund technological initiatives, Kobza said.

The final shape and cost of the bond would be determined after the district hires an architect, Kobza said.

"Based on where we are in the process, we're five years ahead of where we were the last time," he said.

The board gave unanimous consensus to the list of bond priorities.

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