Holcomb USD 363 is looking to make upgrades and additions to facilities in the near future, and district officials are hoping voters will approve a pair of bond issues on the November ballot that will help make them happen.
There will be two bond issue questions on the ballot. Question one is a collection of projects at each of Holcomb's schools — Wiley and Holcomb elementary schools, Holcomb Middle School and Holcomb High School — while question two is a stand-alone, multi-faceted facility.
“The board took time to reflect on what the needs in the district are, and most of that came from talking to staff members and information from the last bond issue,” said USD 363 Superintendent Jean Rush.
During an August board of education meeting, the board approved the two bond issue questions to be on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Each school has its own set of projects, though every school would have office security remodels.
“Question one is just a lot of smaller projects that we combined. We didn’t get a sense that voters were concerned with small projects, so that’s why we just left all of those together,” Rush said. “Also, on guidance from the finance company, they said they’ve never really seen a bond issue that consists of more than two questions. They said typically it’s all in one issue, with occasionally seeing two. But that was the board’s decision.”
Wiley Elementary School’s upgrades include security camera additions, as well as the security office remodel, which would be adding a foyer-like structure that would direct traffic into the main office, Rush said. Those upgrades would cost about $135,000.
At Holcomb Elementary School, there would be the security office remodel, security camera additions, south wing HVAC upgrades, plumbing upgrades, as well as storm shelter additions at a cost of about $1.27 million.
Holcomb Middle School’s upgrades would include the security office remodel and HVAC digital controls upgrades at a cost of about $58,000. Rush said the middle school's current control system is antiquated.
At Holcomb High School, upgrades would include security camera additions, HVAC upgrades, a storm shelter/wrestling room addition and a security office remodel/addition.
“The unique one that’s very expensive on there is the high school because it actually has to move the office,” Rush said of the security office remodel/addition. “The others will feed into the existing offices and are just adding doors and locking mechanisms. Safety and security is always a concern, and we’re seeing that across the state of Kansas.”
USD 363 board member Ryan Ruda agreed.
“With the measures that are being enacted within the bond, safety and security are of utmost importance,” said Ruda, who also sits on the district’s facility committee. “Having facilities which address student and district-wide safety, as well as security measures, has been the primary goal of the board.”
The security office remodel/addition at the high school would cost an estimated $550,000, and all of the upgrades at the high school would cost $2,240,000.
Rush added that it was important for the board to have transparency and give voters choices, which is why it was decided to have two bond issues instead of one.
Ballot question one totals $4,036,270 for the facility upgrades.
Question two on the ballot is a proposed 14,500-square, stand-alone locker room facility that would be located southeast of the high school and northeast of the football field, where the school’s tennis courts currently sit. That project is estimated to cost $3,461,400.
“The greatest need at the high school continues to be locker room space,” Rush said.
The locker room facility would include a concession stand, restrooms and a large classroom.
“It would include locker rooms for both the middle school and high school. It also includes space for groups to practice in, whether it's the band or any (school) organization. That defined space would have space that we could put classrooms in, we just haven’t identified what classes we’d put in there,” Rush said. “We also have some sports that come down to the elementary school to use the locker rooms, for example the cross country teams, so it will pull all of the sports teams to the high school.”
Ruda said being able to keep all high school programs on the high school premises provides a more secure option and keeps students from having to travel between schools.
Rush added that the locker room facility would be used year-round by both fall and spring sports, and the building would address the need for more restrooms at the football stadium.
If construction of the facility is approved, the district would built over the existing tennis courts.
Site upgrades are included in the cost, which include moving and improving a road near the proposed facility, Rush said.
“This plan would re-route vehicle traffic because of the building in that location (where an existing road is),” she said. “It slightly moves the entrance into the football stadium, as well.”
Holcomb USD 363’s last attempted bond issue was in November 2015, which included a proposed new gymnasium and several of the items included in the upcoming ballot questions. That was a $14.5 million project. Voters ultimately rejected it by a 187-105 vote.
The projects being proposed for November's bond issue would cost a combined $7,497,670, and on a 15-year bond issue with a 3.27 percent interest rate, would increase the district’s mill levy by 5.8 mills, Rush said. The school facility upgrades would account for 3.15 mills, and the stand-alone building would be 2.65 mills.
If voters approved both, the owner of a $150,000 home in the district would pay an additional $100.05 in property taxes each year and the owner of a $200,000 home would pay an additional $133.40 a year.
Rush noted that since there are two bond issue questions on the ballot, there is the possibility of both, one or the other or none of them will pass.
If question one on the ballot is passed, then the owner of a $150,000 home would pay an additional $54.34 a year in property taxes while the owner of a $200,000 home would pay an additional $73.45 a year.
If only question two is passed, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay an additional $45.71 a year in property taxes and the owner of a $200,000 home would pay an additional $60.95.
Rush said there will be a public meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Holcomb Middle School to further discuss the two bond issue questions and to answer any questions the public may have.
Ruda added that the main impetus of the bond issues is to improve safety and security across the district.
“Being able to have rated storm shelters and security measures in place in each district building is essential and priority,” Ruda said. “The additional benefits in safety arise from being able to keep all high school programs housed and supervised at the high school, and ultimately keeps student safety central to the district.”
Contact Josh Harbour at email@example.com.