Beginning today, Jan. 13, 2016, registered voters in USD 231 Gardner Edgerton School District will begin receiving ballots for the 2016 Bond Issue election. If passed, this $29.7 million initiative will renovate and expand existing space, construct two new ancillary facilities for greater student opportunities, and address capital improvement needs districtwide including technology replacements and upgrades. The Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce encourages you to vote YES on this very important issue.
The chamber historically does not issue an endorsement on all community issues. (We don’t endorse candidates at all). However, at times the chamber will endorse an issue (or encourage a NO vote) if such issue does not align with the general interests of the business community. Our mission, as recently adopted by our board of directors, representing a wide variety of businesses serving the Gardner Edgerton communities, clearly supports our endorsement of this community initiative.
The Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce serves as the leading voice of business in Southwest Johnson County. We work collaboratively with businesses and community partners to enhance the economy and vitality of the Gardner and Edgerton communities.
The school district has offered a number of opportunities to learn about the 2016 Bond Issue and addressed a number of concerns brought forward by taxpayers. What they’ve done is provide a responsible, cost-effective, forward-thinking proposal that will serve the children of our community and better equip them to be productive members of an ever-changing workforce, both today and well into the future. The improvements that expanded and renovated facilities will provide in various career and technical education tracks are precisely what employers are looking for. For example, we hear often from local and regional employers that they just cannot hire enough welders or mechanics. With pay scales ranging from $15-30/hour and beyond, these are just two examples of industries that the school bond issue will enable students to pursue careers in.
Make no mistake, this school bond issue is about more than just adding a couple of career tracks. Plans include space for 18 new classrooms ranging from science to performing arts. The high school was built in the year 2000 with a capacity of 1,600 students. Today’s enrollment stands at 1,519, with an annual growth of at least 50 students. This addition, along with the new Advanced Technical Center, will grow the capacity to over 2,000, possibly lasting another 5-10 years. During this time the school board and staff will undoubtedly be discussing and gathering input into the future of the district.
In the business world, companies increasingly cite access to a quality workforce and quality of life (including education) as major factors to locate or relocate in a particular area. The bond issue addresses both of these factors and while we do not assume that it will automatically have companies knocking down our door, we know that we will be positioning ourselves competitively for future growth and opportunities.
We encourage you to learn more by visiting www.usd231.com and clicking on the link for bond issue information where you can find everything from financial implications to a list of proposed work to be completed.
Jason E. Camis, President & CEO on behalf of the Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors