February 12, 2016

School board unveils $72.8 million bond issue package

Mark Taylor
Patrons of the Gardner Edgerton School District may be asked to vote on a $72.790 million bond issue early next year.
Superintendent Bill Gilhaus gave school board members a sneak preview of the bond package, which proposes new schools and various district wide upgrades.
Gilhaus said the work is needed to accommodate a student population that continues to grow by 6 percent per year and is pushing several schools beyond maximum capacity.
“We continue to gain additional students (despite the lagging economy),” Gilhaus told the board.
The proposed Jan. 31 bond issue mail-in ballot includes:
• A new elementary school ($18.348 million) to absorb growth south of Main Street. The district’s seventh elementary school would have a capacity for 500 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Construction would begin in Spring, 2012, and the school would open in Fall, 2013.
• A new middle school ($30.192 million) to relieve current growth at Wheatridge Middle School and future growth at Pioneer Ridge Middle School.  The district’s third middle school would have a capacity for 800 students in fifth to eighth grade. Construction would begin in Spring, 2012, and the school would open in Fall, 2014.
• Land acquisition ($2.066 million) to accommodate the new elementary and middle schools, and expansion of athletic fields at Gardner Edgerton High School.
The district on July 11 authorized a $1.429 million purchase agreement for 39.22 acres to accommodate the new elementary and middle schools.
The property is located west of Moonlight Elementary on Grand Street between Center Street and Moonlight Road.
The land was purchased with a temporary note in advance of the bond issue.
Gilhaus said if the bond election isn’t successful, the district will have to pay off the note within 42 months using capital outlay funds.
• A new multi-purpose activity center at Gardner Edgerton High School ($7.971 million) to facilitate basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, track, aerobics, dance, and strength training.
Gihaus said additional athletic developmental, gymnasium and locker room space are needed at the high school as a result of increased participation in physical education, athletic and activity programs.
• Various capital improvements ($8.2 million)
District wide: Improvements to roofing, parking lots, furniture, lighting, playground equipment, ceiling replacements, doors, etc.
Gardner Elementary renovation: Paint, carpeting, HVAC repair, casework, furniture, doors, etc.
Sunflower Elementary renovation: Carpet, furniture, ceilings, doors, windows, parking lot replacement, casework, etc.
GEHS District Activity Complex expansion: Additional seating, visitors restrooms, concessions, field upgrade and press box expansion.
Technology upgrades ($6.013 million) in all schools and district management systems.
Gilhaus said timing is critical because it takes 12 to 18 months to build an elementary school and 18 to 24 months to build a middle school.
He said if growth continues to occur at 6 percent, half of the district’s elementary schools will be over capacity by 2013.
Wheatridge is currently over capacity and Pioneer Ridge is expected to be over capacity by 2013.
There is also increasing community demand (parks and recreation, churches, etc.) for facility space.
However, Gilhaus said, state aid for bond and interest projects has increased from 30 percent to 35 percent and a competitive construction market is expected to play into the district’s favor.
Gilhaus said the bond issue would cost the owner of a $150,000 home an estimated $4.27 per month.
“USD 231 is the anchor for our communities,” Gilhaus wrote in a PowerPoint presented to the board. “That’s why in a period of accelerated growth, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate to our children and surrounding communities that we value education, we value our children, and we’re willing to invest in their future.”


  1. Here is my e-mail to Gilhaus and the USD 231 District Board of Education with respect to this bond issue. Hope all citizens are fully informed on the issue.


    I have the following questions and comments on the proposed $72.8 Million Bond Issue Package. Don’t even think about charging me for the answers to my questions and /or requests for further information.

    1. What will the total amount be that the people will have to pay for this bond issue which should include interest to be paid, legal fees or any other fees? Need complete and full breakdown of these costs and when the costs would first be appearing on citizens’s tax bills and when would those bond costs be eliminated.

    2. Right now on my property which carries an appraised value of $105,000 for 2010, I am paying $390.06 for the USD 231 Bond. Will this bond be paid off by the time this new bond would be placed in force and if not, how much longer would it run and if both would be in effect at the same time, will they be shown as two separate taxing entities on my tax bill and what would be the amount be for this bond on the $105,000 appraised amount that I have? Also how long would the new bond run for?

    3. I do not believe this school bond should be supported at this time since we have so little growth at this time due to the depression we are in now and for the wants rather than needs you have included in this bond issue I believe this costly request for the taxpayers is not showing excellence in leadership or management.

    4. I want a complete, detailed report showing how each and every dollar would be spent on these different items that you show.

    5. I want the following to be fully removed from your request for the bond issue: “A new multi-purpose activity center at Gardner Edgerton High School ($7.971 million) to facilitate basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, track, aerobics, dance, and strength training.
    Gihaus said additional athletic developmental, gymnasium and locker room space are needed at the high school as a result of increased participation in physical education, athletic and activity programs.”

    To me this is strictly a want during very serious and depressing times for many, many citizens and I want to remind you we have a similiar facility now at New Century that the taxpayers will be paying for. We cannot afford wants now and only TRUE NEEDS should be considered and the Board needs to be getting their priorities more in line with reality and what is really important which should be EDUCATION.

    6. The following also needs to be deleted from the bond issue since again I believe these are wants and not true needs: GEHS District Activity Complex expansion: Additional seating, visitors restrooms, concessions, field upgrade and press box expansion.

    7. Timing is NOT critical when we don’t have the money for these projects and I don’t appreciate the propaganda of “we have to do it now” or else.

    8. I do not believe we are over capacity. We are over capacity to what YOU seem to think is what we “need”. We do not have the tax revenue that Blue Valley or some of the other districts have from their well-heeled district families. You seem to forget what your district families can afford vs. other, more affluent school districts can afford and you need to keep that in mind with respect to priorities and knowing the difference between “wants” and “needs”. I have many wants in mind but my monthly income restricts those wants or perhaps totally eliminates them.

    9. I also am not concerned about state aid since they are broke too and the citizens can’t afford to pay them more in order for there to be more money sent our way and this ole garbage about a competitive construction market is just another ploy used by you to get you what you want and which I don’t appreciate. I don’t like the propaganda and manipulation you are using to get you what you want but which the citizens cannot afford. You are using this so-called competitive construction market as another ploy to make a citizen think he has to vote for this bond request “right now”.

    10. Gilhaus states: “USD 231 is the anchor for our communities,” Gilhaus wrote in a PowerPoint presented to the board. “That’s why in a period of accelerated growth, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate to our children and surrounding communities that we value education, we value our children, and we’re willing to invest in their future.”

    What accelerated growth are you speaking of? Gardner’s building permits are dismally low compared to what they have been. When you start seeing the economy doing jumping jacks and we are dragging in the tax revenue from numerous sources then might be the time to say we can afford going into debt even further. Do you not know that the citizens have always valued education and value our children? Do you not think we KNOW the importance of education and our children? This again, to me, was written as a propaganda statement to get you what you want and to perhaps influence the ignorant, uneducated into supporting a bond issue that is not truly needed in many ways and one the citizens cannot afford in many instances – that is my opinion.

    I am disgusted with you Mr. Gilhaus and you, the Board, from what I am seeing from both of you. You are just like the city of Gardner who still does not recognize the damn bad shape our country and our citizens are in and will put the citizens at further risk during these hard time. I wish all of you would work this hard at cutting off the thieves who are always around with their hands out and who the lovely politicians love to bankroll on the backs of the people when they can least afford it. Politics is alive and well with my School District and I do not like it – especially not when our youth of today and our leaders of tomorrow are at stake.

    I will anticipate your prompt answers to my questions.

    Judith Rogers
    Gardner, Ks.

  2. Skeptic says:

    You send a letter personally atacking and insulting the adressee. Do you really expect an answer after that attack?

    Asking questions is one thing but the last 2 paragraphs would land that letter in the trash if it came to me.

  3. That’s fine Skeptic. But I am one to tell a person what I am thinking to their face rather than behind their backs and why and I think I did that very honestly. They have a duty under law to answer my questions or any citizens’ questions under the Open Records law. They have proved to me time and time again to not care about my concerns so nothing much is lost in the relationshp because there is no good working relationship due to their past words, actions, inaction and voting record. I am sure they do not care what I think about them and vice versa but they better care about meeting the requirements of the law because if they don’t then you, the great self-rightous one, will be suffering from it and those that don’t meet the requirements of the law should suffer even more.

  4. On March 22, 2011 the school district advised me from my request that the parcels involved in the sale of land for the schools they feel are necessary are 2F221425-1005, CF221425-2003 and CP73570000 0127.

    The total 2010 appraised values for these properties as per the County Appraiser are $199,900. The total 2011 appraised vlues for these properties as per the County Appraiser are $166,600. The first parcel declined in value from $171,500 to $161,970, the second parcel from $8,130 to $4,620 and the third parcel from $20,270 to $10. Note on the third parcel was reduced in appraised value by 99.95% due to a change of the appraisal/assessment from Residential Vacant Property to Ag Use Property – the County states they have an ag lease filed for 2011 which allowed the age use appraisal reduction to $10 – do you think that property which carries a situs address of 440 E. Pawnee Ln. and within the city limits of Gardner, Ks. is properly appraised as Ag Use or any of these properties should be getting ag use appraisals/assessments???? Do you think a citizen could get by with reducing their property value by 99.95%?????

    So Gilhaus tells us land acquistion will cost $2.066 MILLION on property the County for the year 2011 has an appraised value of $166,600. Nice to be able to pay taxes on $166,600 appraised values but sell the property for a total of $2.066 MILLION, especially that parcel they got reduced to an appraised value of $10. Do you hear that sucking sound out of your wallet while jerks like these contribute so little to the community in tax revenue but sure know how to drag in the millions of dollars on the sale of their properties – wonder what loopholes they will have ready to avoid paying capital gains taxes – I am sure they have that all figured out.

    So with these three parcels the owner/owners pay so very little in taxes (go to Treasurer’s Website and bring these parcels up yourself and look at the tax bills for the past 5 or 6 years) but sure make a killing when they got the citizens to pay TOP DOLLAR to keep in them in the style to which they are accumstomed.

  5. Skeptic says:

    What law says that they have to answer your letter?

  6. Skeptic: Please educate yourself on the Open Records law or common decency law where you tell the people what the costs are for. Guess you have so much money you don’t even care to know how your dollars will be spent – I happen to care and always will.

  7. Skeptic says:

    Open records is one thing. Writing that letter is another.

  8. Like I said I have reached the point of contempt with the politicians – they may have to be politically correct but I don’t, especially when that School Board told me I would have to pay $150 to get the answer to my question with respect to the number of dropouts we have for the past 5 years and they had the information all the time and had already given that info to the State Dept. of Education and where I got the information for free. You might like to be treated that way but I don’t. I was up front with them and they know where they stand and they know what informtion I need – now all they have to do is follow the law. Any government body who wants to gig their citizens to the tune of $150 to answer one question deserves very little respect in my opinion but they do have to meet the requirements of the law whether they want to or not. Keep supporting government entities that operate in this manner and other disrespectful governing for the people and you will to have the lousy government you have had and presently have.

    Bend your knee to them for lousy service, Skeptic – you have every right to do so if that is your choice.

  9. Jared Taylor says:

    I really like Judith’s point in her email to the district, where is the growth (the 6%) that warrants such leveraged building?

    As far as I understand it, permit requests are down and growth has slowed tremendously. Where do they justify the 6% growth number?

  10. Intermodal = growth. This plan is a need…

  11. Here is Ron Ragan’s reply to my e-mail:

    Dear Judith,

    Listed below are responses to your questions/concerns:

    1. The bond plans have not been approved by the board at this time so to provide any estimate on total cost would be premature until plans have been approved.

    2. Once again the bond plans have not been approved, but based on “current projections only” the cost of this bond at its highest point would equate to approximately $2.84 a month on a home appraised at $100,000. The cost of the bond is currently projected to be zero for at least the first two years and the increase in taxes as a result of this bond will be limited to six years. The last bond in this issuance would be paid of in 20 years. The bonds as have been in the past would be issued with varying maturities to make up the cost of the entire issuance.

    3. With or without a strong economy our student population has and will continue to increase in this district. The demographic rise of young adults and subsequently families in Gardner and Edgerton will continue. For purposes of this bond we utilized a growth rate of 3-4% when our actual growth rate for the past few years has actually been approximately 6%. At the lower rate schools will still be beyond capacity.

    4. A complete report is not available as of yet since bond plans have not been approved by the Board.

    5. In regard to the bond it will be presented as an entire package. All new facilities stated in this bond are as a result of enrollment in programs at the respective facilities and programs academic, athletic and other extracurricular activities. As we have continued to grow so has participation in all programs and the need for all facilities is required to meet the growth in need.

    6. The revisions to the Athletic Complex are a direct result of need as well. Our facility will remain smaller than those of other schools in our league with which we compete and these proposed revisions do not completely address our needs for additional seating, concessions, restrooms, etc.

    7. Timing is critical for the following reasons. As you know the State of Kansas has continued to cut education budgets. One of the potential cuts that could occur in upcoming legislative sessions is the state matching funds for bonds. Currently, those funds represent 30% at a minimum that would be provided by the State rather than the local community. Bond rates are currently very low as well and typically as economies improve those rates go up. Funding these bonds now could save millions in interest charges over the life of the bond. While raw materials costs such as copper, concrete, etc. have increased, the cost of labor has not increased substantially due to economic conditions you mentioned. As the economy improves those costs, including labor would likely go up as well.

    8. We are not currently over capacity, but by even the most conservative of estimates we will be in the next few years. It takes approximately 18 months to build an elementary school and 24 months for the construction of a middle school. We wouldn’t be able to start building schools until Spring 2012 at this point so the earliest date we could utilize an elementary school built in Spring 2012 would be Fall of 2013. We cannot wait until schools are at capacity to begin this process. There is significant lead time to these large construction projects.

    9. In regard to state aid the concern as stated above is that future legislative efforts could limit bond matching dollars pushing the cost of any bond project entirely on the shoulders of the local communities.

    10. Great Schools = Great Communities. I’m glad you agree with me. As stated above, even without the addition of one new home under construction the number of children in this district will continue to grow.


    Ron Ragan

    USD 231 Board President


    Here is my reply to Mr. Ragan and the rest of the Board:

    As usual a taxpayer’s concerns and questions are ignored. You have made it plain you, the Board and Gilhaus will have things your way or the highway and you will not give full disclosure. In my opinion you are not giving the people all of the information they need with respect to this bond issue. You exemplify, once again, why I and many other citizens are so dissatisfied with our government entities.

    Judith Rogers
    Gardner, Ks.


    Wanted to give all of this information to citizens so they may come to their own conclusions and what their actions will be. Myself, personally, I CANNOT see how I will be voting for this bond issue.

  12. I would also encourage citizens to contact the Johnson County Records Dept. and check on ownership of these 3 parcels of land involved for the schools, when the last deeds were processed and be sure to look at the appraised values thru the Appraiser’s website. Use the parcel numbers shown in one of my earlier postings. I sure wonder what entities are behind FFBWC Investors LLC – I feel sure they are entities getting paid very well by the citizens of USD 231 School Dist. – we could ask our School Board but do you think they would answer your questions? Always good to follow the money but government entities make it very difficult for you since full disclosure it appears is very hard for them.

  13. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    After discussing land acquisition for two new schools in executive session on January 10, 2011, the school board voted unanimously to purchase a total of 51.181 acres of land (3 tracts) in the Plum Creek subdivision for an amount not to exceed $1,150,000, which by my math calculates to a little over $22,469 per acre.

    On July 11, 2011, the district authorized a $1,429,000 purchase agreement for only 39.22 acres, which calculates to a little over $36,435 per acre.

    I am curious about what caused the price per acre of this land to increase over 62% in just seven months.

  14. I doubt very much Ron Ragan wrote that letter. Sounds like boilerplate talking points that Gilhaus drafted for the party line. Gilhaus has had the board in his pocket for several years. They are like bobble heads nodding in agreement.

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