Recently passed school bond issues will be adding additional space and security measures to two area school districts after voters gave the approval for the construction projects designed to ultimately be a benefit to students, staff and the communities.
Holcomb USD 363
Holcomb residents in November passed a bond issue by a 286-172 vote that will add new storm shelters and additional security measures, as well as address maintenance needs in each of the district’s school buildings.
The projects include security camera additions at Wiley Elementary School, as well as a security office remodel, which will add a foyer-like structure that would direct traffic into the main office. The remodel will cost $135,000.
Holcomb Elementary School will see a security office remodel, along with HVAC upgrades to the school's southern wing and storm shelter additions, estimated to cost $1.27 million.
Nick Nemechek, USD 363’s architect with GMCN Architects, said in November that the remodel of the security offices would create layers between visitors and students.
“…It's just a way to make sure everyone is where they're supposed to be,” he said.
Construction costs at Holcomb Middle School total $58,000 and include a security office remodel and upgrades to the building’s dated HVAC digital control system.
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 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 $2.24 million.
Jean Rush, superintendent of USD 363, said the reason the security office remodel/addition has a higher cost is because the main office will have to be moved.
"The others will feed into the existing offices and are just adding doors and locking mechanisms,” she said of the other projects. “Safety and security is always a concern, and we're seeing that across the state of Kansas."
Rush said the project ultimately addresses the need for additional security measures within the district.
"That safety and security, you just can't ignore it in today's environment, so I think that's what excites me the most," she said.
Rush said there will be various features of the security camera installations, like administrators and law enforcement being able to access the cameras by their phones, instead of having to look at them on a TV in the facility.
"That's an important feature because if something is going on inside, as we need to call in law enforcement, we need to be able to know — like if we're at the district office — what's going on in there," she said.
Construction costs total about $4.1 million for the facility upgrades and raise the district's mill levy by 3.15 mills, costing the owner of a $150,000 home an additional $54.34 a year in property taxes.
“We expect construction to start as soon as school is out,” Rush said. “The first construction will start at the elementary schools with the safety components.”
Scott City USD 466
Scott City’s $25 million bond issue will address the district’s three goals — size to accommodate growing enrollment, building efficiency and safety, according to USD 466 Superintendent Jamie Rumford.
Scott County residents, as well as some from Lane, Wichita and Logan counties who are patrons of the district, voted 745-720 in November in favor of the bond issue that includes updates to each of USD 466′s schools — Scott City Elementary, Scott City Middle and Scott Community High School.
GMCN Architects also is working on the construction of the Scott City facility upgrades.
According to Rumford, the bond issue will address several capital improvements within the district, including new roofing, carpet and other maintenance needs.
“We’re just trying to be more efficient and not have to spend additional money... It’s kind of restarting the maintenance programs with all of the facilities,” Rumford said.
Rumford said USD 466 has had significant growth in the last decade. In the 2000s the district’s overall enrollment had about 900 students. For the 2017-18 school years, the district has more than 1,000 students. Because of the growth, the district is running out of space for students.
In previous interviews with The Telegram, Rumford said when visiting the elementary school, it’s not unusual to see a small group of students working in the hallway.
“A teacher might be sitting in a hallway with two, three or four kids in a semi-circle around her, and that’s their answer to an area outside of the classroom to do an intervention lesson or work individually,” Rumford said.
The district is seeing trends that show future growth is expected in each grade level, so in order to accommodate that, a wing will be renovated on the east side of the middle school, and third and fourth grade will move to the middle school in that wing, along with fifth grade.
A new wing will be built on the west side of the building for grades six through eight.
“We’re going to kind of create half the building as an upper level elementary, and then the upper half will be the middle school,” Rumford said. “So the elementary will lose two upper grade levels, which is about 150 kids.”
The middle school also will have a gym added to it for competition purposes for all grade levels.
“It’ll be for P.E. primarily, but the big question around town is where we’re going to play games, and my first answer is at the middle school, so we’ll have a competition gym,” Rumford said.
The gym will be located on the south side of the football practice field, and the top-load style gymnasium will seat 1,800 people and will have dual courts.
The high school also will see some renovations of the school’s football field to include new field lights, a 100-stall parking lot, replacing the current stadium bleachers with new ones that are ADA accessible, as well as the addition of a plaza area on the north side of the field that will have a concession stand and restrooms.
Like the Holcomb schools, each of the Scott City USD 466 school buildings will receive new secure office designs, which would require visitors to enter through the school’s office and not provide immediate access to other parts of the building, according to Rumford.
FEMA compliant storm shelters with “tornado-safe walls” will be added to the elementary and middle schools that will also serve as a music room.
“Two of our buildings don’t have adequate tornado evacuation, and none of the three buildings have safe entry points where visitors are directed to the office,” Rumford said.
Construction likely will begin this spring, Rumford said previously, noting the district may see some work done on the football field and bleachers before school is out for summer break.
“It doesn’t affect any education by starting on that, but the big work at the middle school will start when students leave for the summer,” he said.
Rumford said construction upgrades overall are inclusive for the schools in USD 466.
“It really makes every site that we’ve got up to the standard that we think our students and community deserves or to be proud of,” he said. “… I’m excited about the pride and the impact it’s going to have on the educational and instructional process as kids go through.”
Contact Josh Harbour at firstname.lastname@example.org.