Amy Cunningham
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At their Monday meeting Spring Hill School Board members learned the results of a phone survey they will use to gage support for a possible $34 million bond issue the district hopes to put on a June or September ballot.
The survey, conducted by Jayhawk Consulting Services (JCS), tallied the views of 300 registered voters in the Spring Hill School District who were identified as frequent voters and had voted recently in an election.
According to JCS consultant Jim Yonally, frequent voters are believed to be active in their communities. Only three percent of the people who were reached declined to participate.
“We were happy (with those results) because most folks…had an interest in talking about their schools,” Yonally said.
To create their sample, JCS used a list of voters provided by the school district and matched that list with one  they had purchased from another company.  Respondents were placed in two categories, either as parents or patrons – 46 percent were identified as parents, having children in the district; 54 percent were considered patrons, taxpayers without children attending district schools.
Based on the answers provided, JCS concluded that 56 percent of taxpayers believe that the district’s enrollment is increasing while only 21percent feel it is holding steady and 23 percent were unsure.  None thought enrollment in USD 230 was decreasing.
Taxpayers, according to Yonally, seemed to support making educational technology (57 percent) and addressing facility maintenance problems at existing buildings (59 percent) a priority, while only 39 percent of those surveyed thought it was a priority to add classrooms for future enrollment growth.  There was low support, only 49 percent, thought it a priority to purchase land for future growth.
Voters, according to JCS, had little support for adding temporary classrooms, building additional schools on land already owned by the district at the current high school or converting the Intermediate School.
Yonally concluded that most people who were not currently supporting the possible bond measure did not believe that it could be done without a tax increase.
“Most people who thought it was bad…thought so because they thought it was too good to be true,” he said.
The board received the information and hopes to make a decision regarding the bond issue at an upcoming meeting.  Bart Goering, district superintendent, informed the group that there is currently a piece of legislation in committee at the statehouse to end the state’s participation in capitol improvements for school districts by July of 2011.
He said that, if this piece of legislation moves forward it could affect the amount of money the state will fork over for the proposed improvements to the tune of about $12.9 million.
Goering believes, should the legislation pass as currently written, if the district puts the bond on the June ballot they should still receive state aid; however, if the bond goes on the September ballot, the district would, most likely, not be eligible to receive the benefit.
“Thirty-eight percent of the project would be paid for by the state…so, yeah, it’s pretty significant not only now but over the next 20 years,” Goering said, explaining how the cost to district taxpayers would be affected by the proposed law.
In other business the board:
•Learned the high school is going to add 13 new classes and dropping four classes from its current offerings.
•Learned that the district has taken six snow days this year and, thus far, will not have to make-up any days.
The Spring Hill USD 230 Board of Education will next meet at 7 a.m. on Feb. 28 at Spring Hill Elementary School.