$90 Million Bond Issue Could Close Two USD 501 Schools

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Safety, technology and financial opportunities are among the reasons officials with Topeka's USD-501 say a $90-million bond issue could provide students with a bright future.

While the school district wants to ensure school safety and address the growing need for technology in the classroom, it could come at the cost of closing two elementary schools.

Monday evening, USD-501 officials rolled out the first of 28 separate listening sessions to discuss a $90 million bond issue that would affect all schools in the district, including bringing an end to Avondale West and Shaner Elementary.

USD-501 Superintendent Julie Ford said, "We have to start looking at what is best long term for the next 20 years. Shaner only has 160 kids and you start seeing inefficiencies with schools that size."

Officials would combine both schools into one near the Jardine Middle School site. Another school affected, Capital City would be re-designed to meet the needs today's at-risk students.

USD-501 is currently in phase 2 of a 2010 Facilities Plan. Phase one saw the closures of four elementary schools, Linn, Lundgren, Quinton Heights and Avondale East.. All the buildings were re-purposed.

People at the listening session agreed with the need to enhance safety at the district's schools but they also want their children to have a leg up on the competition.

USD-501 resident Bobbi Mariani said, "I think it's real important that the bond issue address the use technology and science in the classroom and that we keep pace with other schools as our children graduate and move on to college where they use a lot of technology."

Ford says if board members decide to propose a bond issue in November, they won't be digging deeper into taxpayers pockets.

"We should be able to get some funding and we've paid out all of our 2016 bonds all of it added together means no taxes increase for our patrons."

If the decision is made in November to go forward with the bond issue,USD-501 residents would vote on the issue in the spring.
Landon Middle School, McEchron Elementary School and Whitson Elementary School all have listening tours Tuesday at 6 p-m.

Other items discussed within the bond issue were more Pre-K programs and air conditioning for all middle school and high school gyms within USD-501.

The meetings will be held September 9th through October 14th. A complete list of tour dates, time and locations:

Sept. 9, 6:00 p.m., Topeka West High School
Sept. 10, 6:00 p.m., Landon Middle School
Sept. 10, 6:00 p.m., McEachron Elementary School
Sept. 10, 6:00 p.m., Whitson Elementary School
Sept. 10, 6:00 p.m., Quincy Elementary School
Sept. 12, 6:00 p.m., Sheldon Child Development Center
Sept. 16, 6:00 p.m., Stout Elementary
Sept. 17, 6:00 p.m., Avondale West Elementary
Sept. 17, 6:00 p.m., Capital City Schools
Sept. 18, 6:00 p.m., Ross Elementary/Eisenhower Middle School
Sept. 18, 7:00 p.m., Topeka High School
Sept. 18, 7:00 p.m., Highland Park High School
Sept. 24, 6:00 p.m., Williams Magnet School
Sept. 24, 6:00 p.m., Randolph Elementary School
Sept. 25, 5:30 p.m., Scott Dual Language Magnet School
Sept. 26, 6:00 p.m., French Middle School
Sept. 26, 6:00 p.m., Shaner Elementary School
Sept. 26, 6:00 p.m., Hope Street Academy
Sept. 26, 6:00 p.m., Bishop Elementary
Sept. 30, 6:00 p.m., Meadows Elementary School
Oct. 7, 6:00 p.m., Jardine Middle School
Oct. 8, 6:00 p.m., McClure Elementary School
Oct. 8, 6:00 p.m., Highland Park Central Elementary School
Oct. 8, 6:00 p.m., State Street Elementary/Chase Middle School
Oct. 8, 7:00 p.m., Robinson Middle School
Oct. 9, 6:00 p.m., McCarter Elementary
Oct. 14, 6:00 p.m., Lowman Hill Elementary