September 22, 2014

USD 230 patrons to decide $39 million bond issue

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com

Johnson County Election Officials mailed 6,570 ballots to Spring Hill School District voters last week.

And now the waiting game is on for school district staff as voters decide whether to approve a $39 million bond issue. If approved, the bonds would expand Prairie Creek Elementary School, build a new elementary near Spring Hill High School, address maintenance needs in the district like improving parking lots, and technology upgrades district-wide including wireless access in all buildings. District officials say the bond issue will not require a mill levy increase.

To be counted, mail-in ballots must be returned to the Johnson County Election Office no later than noon on Tuesday, June 7.

Election officials mailed ballots to registered voters on May 18, and by May 23, more than 1,400 ballots had been returned.

Brian Newby, Johnson County Election Commissioner, said he expects another 1,400-or-so ballots to trickle in by the June 7 deadline.

“Back in the day, you could almost be assured of a 50 percent turnout with a mail-in ballot,” Newby said. “Now it’s about a 40 percent turnout. For whatever reason, the turnout of mail ballots has dropped over the years.”

Mail elections have been popular with school districts over the past several years. Spring Hill School District patrons will vote this summer, and Gardner Edgerton officials anticipate hosting a mail-ballot election in early 2012.

Newby theorizes district’s opt for mail elections due to a perceived increase in turnout over typical polling-booth elections.

“But now, you can certainly have a much higher turnout at other times,” Newby said.

“Compared to spring 2011, of course, with the mail ballots you’re going to have a higher turnout. But compare it to November 2012, and (the mail election) is going to have half that turnout. I think it’s a preference by school district.”

Districts must pay for a special election whether by mail or otherwise. Mail-in ballots can be more expensive, because they include the cost for return postage.

“When we looked at a countywide special election in 2005, it was more expensive by almost 15 percent, but that was countywide. When it’s a small election, like this size, it’s probably a wash,” Newby said.

Christine Splichal, Spring Hill School District Director of Communications, said the choice of a mail election wasn’t based on cost or voter turnout. It was a matter of timeliness.

The district didn’t have the bond issue ready to go by the spring 2011 elections.

“There are so many official steps you have to go through before you can go to an election,” Splichal explained. “It just wasn’t ready to go. We chose to do a mail-in ballot to keep things moving.”

If voters approve the bond issue, Splichal said school officials will really get things rolling.

“There would be some things that patrons and families would see immediately – parking lot repairs, roof repairs. The technology portion would begin,” she said.

The Prairie Creek Expansion wouldn’t open until fall of 2012, and the new elementary school would welcome students in the fall of 2013.

“We’re hopeful that voters will take the time or have already learned about the bond and cast their vote,” Splichal said. “It’s an important issue for not only the families but taxpayers in general. I hope that there is not apathy. But that holds true for any election.”

All registered voters in the Spring Hill School District should’ve received their ballots by now.

Those who haven’t are asked to call the Johnson County Election Office at (913)782-3441 as soon as possible.

Newby said even Miami County voters are asked to call the Johnson County office, as they’re handling the mail election on both sides of the county line.
Officially, voters have until June 3 to request a replacement ballot, but Newby said there’s a gray area in the law. If a voter discovers they haven’t received a ballot on June 4, they should still call the election office.

“We would issue a provisional (ballot) and still try to count it,” Newby said.

Comments

  1. I would venture to say at least 95% of the school families of this school district or any school district for that matter, do not know how their school tax dollars are presently being spent and certainly don’t know what this $39 Million will be spent for and remember, you are going to have to pay for interest on that $39 Million resulting in millions of more dollars you will be in hock for. DEBT creates a huge financial burden for taxpayers and they need to be thinking long and hard as to whether this debt is necessary or whether it can be cut by getting a handle on needs rather than wants.

    When this school district applied for a grant for a student (only 15% of the kids going to school) walking and bicycle safety program which the parents and the community could have handled themselves, tells me they are not careful in the spending of taxpayer money. This school district or government entity is not the only one to do this type of governing – I see city, county, state and other school districts doing the same thing time and time again. They look at grant money as free money that HAS TO BE SPENT – that grant money is costing EVERY taxpayer and it should only be used when totally necessary in my opinion.

    Spring Hill residents will make up their own minds on this bond issue but I would hope they would be totally informed before marking their ballots and also holding their school administration accountable and responsible for the spending of tax dollars. I know I will be when Gardner/Edgerton School Dist. 231 presents their bond issue to the citizens next year and from what I know now, they will be getting a NO vote from me.

  2. This article may interest some Spring Hill families.

    ******************************************************************

    Insight School in Olathe plans sale to K12 Inc.; employees to be rehired
    Kansas City Business Journal – by Brenna Hawley, Staff Writer
    Date: Monday, May 23, 2011, 2:41pm CDT – Last Modified: Monday, May 23, 2011, 3:31pm CDT

    Insight School in Olathe is changing owners, leaving all 67 employees temporarily with pink slips until the new owners take over and fulfill a verbal agreement to retain the employees.

    The school’s executive director said the sale was expected to be finalized by July 1.

    Insight School filed a notice in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, giving employees a 60 calendar-day notice. Gary Price, executive director of the school, said the notice was necessary for the employees to move from Kaplan Inc. to purchaser K12 Inc.
    According to a Dow Jones article Thursday, Kaplan had bought the online high school business in February from Apollo Group Inc. but decided that the timing wasn’t right to take on that initiative and that it would focus on its core business, thus agreeing to sell the business.

    Price said K12 told him it would retain all 67 employees, which includes 58 teachers and nine administrative and clerical workers. He said that he does not know how much K12 was paying in the deal but that K12 still has to meet with the Spring Hill School District to finalize the deal.

    “I already have the verbal indication, but they haven’t actually received final approval for the sale,” Price said.

    Insight is a tuition-free public school at 16740 W. 175th St. Courses, taught online, range from basic math and English courses to advanced-placement microeconomics and Latin. The school is part of the Spring Hill Unified School District, which serves Spring Hill, Olathe and Overland Park.

    Insight has schools in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Price said that all nine U.S. schools were part of the sale and that K12 owns many other online schools throughout the country.

    “They’re probably the nation’s largest in our business,” Price said.

    K12 operates 32 online schools.

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