July 23, 2014

USD 230 receives $1 million land donation

Mark Taylor
mtaylor@gardnernews.com
The Spring Hill School Board accepted a $1 million gift on July 26.
Owners of Wolf Creek Estates, a single and multi-family subdivision at 191st Street and Ridgeview Road have donated 15 acres of land in their development – valued at $1 million — for the construction of the district’s next elementary school.
“I feel very positive about this,” said Eric Boyle, board member.  “We try hard to find property that is suitable for an elementary school, and it is not an easy task. To me, this is ideal.
“What a gift to the district. That’s a million dollars to the taxpayers.”
Superintendent Barton Goering said that private land donations for public schools are unheard of in Johnson County.
He spoke to another Johnson County superintendent who said the closest they have come to free land was purchasing property at the developer’s cost.
“This is tremendous,” Goering said. “You just don’t get developers to do this.
Board members reviewed a preliminary site plan for what the school would look like among the neighborhood of single family homes, four-plexes and town houses.
Separate streets would be built off of Ridgeview for car and bus drop-offs.
The school property would also include hard and soft play areas as well as multi-purpose fields.
Utilities (water, gas and sanitary sewer) are in place to serve the area but may have to be extended to the site.
The costs for those improvements would be the responsibility of those who benefit from them, and could be financed through a benefit district, the board was told.
The school board plans to build a 528 student school on the site, rather than on the high school site as planned in the recent $39 bond issue election.
Board members expressed concern about building the new elementary school on a different site than they told patrons in the bond issue campaign, but agreed that overall the switch had more positives than negatives.
Building on nearby donated land would free up the high school site for future construction.
“This is not the last school we will build,” Boyle said. “We will definitely have needs in the future.”
It would also alleviate traffic and safety concerns many patrons expressed about building an elementary school so close to the high school.
“The biggest concern I got (during the bond issue campaign) was placing the elementary school at the high school (site),” Goering said.  “I do think this removes that concern for parents.
Goering also said the property donation would likely have benefits for the developer.
“I am sure one of the reasons they want to donate this land is that an elementary school would be a good draw for them,” he said.
The board voted to accept the donation pending approval from the city.
In other business, the board voted to publish a budget with a mill levy held steady at 65.362 mills.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 8, before the board votes on whether to adopt it.
Goering said if the budget is adopted as published, Spring Hill would likely have the second or third lowest mill levy among the six Johnson County school districts.

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