USD 501’s plan for $90 million bond

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TOPEKA, KS — 90 million dollars. That is how much the 501 USD wants for their next bond issue. And as Kansas First News reporter, Nicolette Schleisman learned, there’s also the possibility of closing two elementary schools.

The USD 501 Board of Education has a 90 million dollar plan, including the possibility of closing two elementary schools, Avondale West and Shaner Elementary Schools.

“All the kids around here go to this school. It’s always been a huge part of this neighborhood,” said Danielle Webber, a resident near Avondale West.

“That’s the main reason we decided to buy this house was the schools right there, easy access for us,” said Brian Osterhaus, a resident near Avondale West.

It would allow Jardine Middle School to have more room to add a Pre-K through 8th grade system.
But, according to Board Member, Michael Morrison, security is the most important issue. On top of building FEMA regulated storm shelters, they would also have cameras, and even bullet proof glass.

“It is very important to us to have secure facilities and to take care of our children,” said Morrison.

But parents say, having their kids in a school so close to their home adds a level of security already.

“Being able to sit here and look across and know my daughter is at if I’m home during the day. [And] Know she is right across the street at school,” said Osterhaus.

None of the plans are set in stone, and Morrison says the next step is to take it to the parents for their input.

“We have not been to talk to parents and people around the areas, but we are very sensitive to their desires and what they believe is appropriate,” said Morrison.

Superintendent, Julie Ford, says it is needed improvements.

“You have to be planning and keeping your facilities up to date. And to be honest there was probably a period in time where Topeka wasn’t investing in their schools,” said Superintendent Ford.

Hoping to bring the district into the future for learning and safety.

Superintendent Ford says tax payers would not see a rise in their taxes from this bond. They are planning listening tours and other public hearings on the issue, which could take place at the end of September or in October. Board Members want to get the issue out for voters as early as this spring.

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