February 12, 2016

School board to discuss boundary options once bond is approved

Modular classrooms were installed at Moonlight Elementary to ease overcrowding. Staff photo by Mark Taylor

Danedri Thompson
Some redistricting will be necessary in the Gardner Edgerton School District whether voters approve or reject a $72 million bond issue next January. However, Leann Northway, USD 231 communications director, said school officials have yet to discuss what new boundaries will look like if voters approve a bond issue to build a new elementary school and a new middle school.
“Once the bond is approved, we’ll discuss where we will pull children from to fill the new schools,” she said. “You can’t put the cart before the horse. We can’t get into that until we know we have something to work with.”
New boundary lines in response to a bond issue would likely only affect students in high density parts of town, she said. For example, Moonlight Elementary is overcapacity right now. The school was designed to hold 518 students, and last year, it hosted 613 students. To house the additional students, board members opted to build modular classrooms on the school’s property.
There are a few classrooms in the district not being used for traditional K-12 that could potentially be used to alleviate some overcrowding, but Northway said that would possibly require getting rid of popular district programs.
For example, the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department leases classrooms for Kindergarten Enrichment and Before/After Care at Madison, Gardner, Moonlight, Nike and Sunflower Elementary Schools.
More than 350 students use the program.
“It’s a good program that’s utilized by many.  I know they have waiting lists,” she said.
The January bond issue would solve current and projected overcapacity without cutting programs.
“Changing boundaries would be a short term fix, but eventually we’re going to have to deal with overcapacity,” Northway said.
Changing boundaries would be only a “quick fix” and will result in students being transported outside their attendance area with boundary re-evaluations year after year.  As a reminder, it takes 18 months to build an elementary school and 24 months to build a middle school.
Right now, Moonlight and Wheatridge Middle School are over capacity, but other schools will join their ranks, according to district projections. The district’s elementary schools were designed to hold 2,598 students, and officials estimate they will house 2,650 students by 2013.
“Changing boundaries would be only a quick fix and will result in students being transported outside their attendance area with boundary re-evaluations year after year,” Northway said. “And remember, it takes 18 months to build an elementary school, and 24 months to build a middle school,” Northway said.  “Now is the time to get those schools built.”


  1. Whatever……………I won’t be voting for that school bond and for numerous good reasons……..

  2. First, the Lord’s Prayer was taken out of the schools. Then, the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. Now, I hear today that the National Anthem is too violent, so it is going out the door too.

    The potato is going out of school lunches as not nutritious. However, dietitians will tell you the potato is very nutritious, especially with the skin on. Spaghetti & meat balls are still on the menu.

    And, for the 3 R’s (Reading Writing, & Arithmetic), the status must be pretty poor. At least, that is what I see out in the real world.

    I will be voting “NO” also.

  3. So, both of you bitter people will be voting no, helping to ensure that the quality of education decreases for the children of our community.


    This town is so backward-thinking, it’s unbelievable.

  4. To Mark:

    I am not bitter. I am for God & country & quality education. The United States ranks something like in the 30’s on the list for education.

  5. What does astro turf have to do with the quality of education? Bubba did this town proud, and he didn’t have astro turf. This bond issue has everything to do with ego, and little to do with education. Moonlight is overcrowded for socio economic issues. The district gets Title I funding.

  6. Again, in my opinion, Gilhaus and the School Board do NOT deserve support on this school bond issue. And that opinion is as a result of their words, actions, inaction and voting records. They are making poor choices just like my city administration and it gets worse by the day. All of them no more work for the people overall than a man in the moon. I will NOT support them. But I will continue to support the excellent teachers we have and all children of the world who most certainly deserve a good education but they don’t deserve self-serving leaders who deal in lies, half-truths, not being forthcoming, conniving, manipulation, lack of strong moral values, etc., etc.

  7. I would hope citizens would ask themselves why our school district would choose the dead of the winter to have the vote on this school bond issue.

  8. GardnerPride says:

    I know people want to hang their hat on a ‘I won’t vote for turf’ opinion, but realize that the turf expense is roughly 1% of the total bond issue. While relevant to be sure, please don’t let that be the only thing you consider when placing your vote.

    The Board will be doing the entire community a disservice if they don’t decide on a rezoning plan prior to this vote. Boundaries must be redrawn, and we must understand where the shifts will be before voting on the construction of a new school. I’m of the personal opinion that rather than another elementary school, we should be constructing a 5-6th grade building that will allow these kids to better prepare for the revolving schedule they will face in Jr. High. This will ease the student count burdens at both the elementary and middle schools, and better prepare our students for the second half of their educational journey in my opinion.

  9. Emphasis should be placed on EDUCATION at all levels. I remember well when my granddaughter was in kindergarten and I spent many hours visiting that classroom and Mrs. Furlough who is an outstanding teacher was having to spend way too much time, in my opinion, in getting students to behave and get ready for instruction. She was so patient and so good but oh, how I hated to see that wasted time – all parents should have their children ready to learn from Day 1 for the sake of their children and to keep expenses down as much as possible.

    Our dropout rate has increased 8 times over in the past few years – I don’t want revolving doors, schedules or classrooms – I want those kids interested and wanting to be in the classroom and I want them LEARNING and to love learning which they will be doing the rest of their lives and to me that can only happen with excellent teachers and them having the support they need to get the job done.

    Way too much emphasis is now placed on sports in my opinion – the priorities are out of whack. Those students and their education should be Priority No. 1. I believe that sports emphasis is coming thru school district staff and parents. We need to be coming up with ways to provide excellent education at an affordable cost – the costs are getting way out of hand and I believe it is due to poor choices with respect to putting money where it should not be going. I know many instances of where you could give one family $50,000 to live on and they do fine and yet another family with the same resouces makes poor choices and the whole family suffers.

    Leadership is the key and I believe the leadership for USD 231 School Dist. is failing and in several different ways and you will continue to have problems if the parents and the leadership don’t get their acts together. When I have a school district not answer questions on important issues, stonewall, manipulate, etc., etc. then I believe all of the school families have a problem. Important changes need to be made and the school families are going to have demand them if they seek excellence at an affordable cost. I see very little being done to control costs and they just keep raising the mill levy since they continue to spend more than what revenue is coming in – that will catch up to you and it is even harder the longer this type of leadership exists. This present school leadership doesn’t want to talk about total costs involved in borrowing money nor in what the real total cost is going to be for families and that is why we have had the highest or one of the highest school tax mill levies in the whole STATE now for years. They just want to say here is what we are going to do and you are going to have to come up with the money – just like they did when they sued the people for more money this past year or so. I have had my fill of dictators in this area and it is way past time to say NO.

  10. Judith I have 2 questions for you. How much Money from the Bond is going toward sports? And if they took the sports portion out of the bond would you still vote no?

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