COLUMBUS, Kan. —
The Columbus School Board on Monday night approved asking voters in May two questions that combined would provide more than $30 million to the district for renovations and construction, including a new elementary school.
Superintendent David Carriger said the district hasn’t had a bond issue in more than 30 years, and some of its buildings are falling apart.
About 2 1/2 years ago, the school board did a strategic plan to look at the aging buildings, Carriger said. Then, about a year ago, a survey sent to the community suggested that Columbus residents wanted to see additional school buildings, he said.
Carriger said a residents advisory committee made up of 30 members has been working on a master plan for about seven months, and its findings were presented to the board two weeks ago. After more input from the community last week, the board adopted the proposal Monday night, and the questions will be on a May 6 ballot.
The first question, asking for $23.1 million, includes building a new school for students in first through eighth grades; remodeling the pre-kindergarten building; and making renovations at the high school, including making the school’s entrance more secure and renovating the football stadium.
The second question, costing $7.5 million, includes additional improvements at the high school and football stadium.
Carriger said the state of Kansas would pay 34 percent if either the first or both questions are approved by voters. The rest would be paid with an increase in property taxes.
If the first question is approved, Carriger said, the debt would raise the current mill levy of 49.94 to 66.54. That would equate to an increase of about $143 a year for the owner of a $70,000 home, which Carriger said is the average home value in Cherokee County.
If both measures are approved, the mill levy would be raised to 71.94. That would equate to an increase of about $190 a year for the owner of a $70,000 home, Carriger said.
Carriger said the board has been conservative over the past few years by not asking taxpayers for additional assistance. The committee determined that instead of putting money into old buildings, new construction would be the best way to use taxpayer money, he said.
“It’s something we need not only for our kids, but for our community,” Carriger said.
IF THE BALLOT QUESTIONS are approved by voters in a special election May 6, Superintendent David Carriger said, construction probably would start this fall and would take up to 2 1/2 years to complete.