Election to Decide Fate of Three School Buildings

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HOLTON, Kan. - USD 336 officials are hoping the November 4 general election will bring the passing of a $21.3 million bond issue that would help fund the construction of a new grade school building.

The building would use up $18.8 million of the bond, while $1.8 million would be used for a new Agricultural education building and $700,000 would go toward improvements to the high school.

The new building would house Pre-K through 5th grade students and would be built on an area of land just west of Holton Community Hospital. It's not quite two miles from downtown, but is across Highway 75, which has some unhappy with the proposed location.

"Moving or bussing children two miles out of town when it's still dark in the winter, would call additional liability," said Betty Cripe, organizer of the community action group, Citizens Coalition, which opposes the bond issue.

"We have two very quality elementary schools - Colorado and Central - and they just made additions to them a few years ago," said Cripe.

But Superintendent Jim Karleskint says even with the additions, the schools are still cramped.

"We have two buildings that are still functioning, but are limited on space," said Karleskint. "We don't have all day kindergarten because of space limitations. That's the main reason, is for space and the kids."

Cripe suggests the current buildings be expanded on their existing land. But there are already two mobile units outside Colorado Elementary, holding two classrooms in each. Karleskint says the school can't build on because it would edge out the kids' area for recess.

Space in the schools isn't just an issue, parking and bus drop-off space is also limited.

Karleskint said the school board did consult an architect about building on to the existing schools. "It would cost as much - to have a facility like we're proposing - to build on and we don't have any room," said Karleskint. "We would take playground space."

If the bond doesn't pass, Karleskint says the board will review new options. If it does pass, they'll start the planning process with an architect. Karleskint says the board would likely take contractor bids in late spring, early summer of 2009; break ground in fall 2009; and complete the building in fall of 2011.

The Board of Education is in negotiations with a party that is interested in buying the Colorado Elementary building, if the bond passes. The district offices would be moved to Central Elementary as a multi-functional facility with Special Education and the "Fresh-Start" Adult Diploma Program. The building currently housing the offices would be sold.

USD 336 Bond Issue Site