Archive for Thursday, July 3, 2008

Board expected to approve bond

July 3, 2008

As she looks back on her year as president of the De Soto 232 Board of Education, Janine Gracy sees both setbacks and accomplishments.

"I certainly wish that we would have been able to pass a bond this year, but I think that the bond that we have coming up we have crafted in such a way that surely people will understand our need for classrooms and space," she said. "This district is still growing, and we need to meet the needs of our students."

Gracy's term as board president will end at the next meeting Monday night, when a new board president is elected. If precedence sets the standard, it could be board vice president Larry Meyer taking the reins. Gracy said there appeared to be a couple of people interested in the vice president position, but she said the board would have to see how that worked out Monday.

During the board's 2007-08 term, voters rejected a two-question $70.5 million school bond issue that addressed some of the district's immediate needs including an expansion of Mill Valley High School.

The resolution asked voters first to approve $51 million for school expansions, security additions, an early childhood center and land acquisition. If they voted yes, voters then were asked to approve $19.5 million for artificial turf and performing arts centers at both high schools. The second question could not have passed if the first question failed, but the district reported after the election that many voters were confused with the process.

Citing a dire need to address growth at both high schools, the board last month approved bond projects slated for the Nov. 4 general election.

The projects include expanding Mill Valley and De Soto high schools to 1,400 and 1,000 students, respectively. It also includes building another elementary school on land the district owns at 55th Street and Belmont Drive in Shawnee. The board approved the projects 6-1 Monday with the stipulation that the cost not exceed $72 million. A final resolution will be voted on at the board's next meeting Monday.

Gracy said most things will stay the same, except the cost might go down.

"We are probably going to firm up some of the numbers so we can get a better feel for the amount of money that we need to be asking for," she said.

Although the bond resolution was developed under her watch, the entire board deserves the credit, Gracy said.

"Even though I was president, I'm still just one member, and it takes more than just one member to move forward with our school district," she said. "All the hard work is actually ahead of us in trying to get the bond passed. We've done a lot of research on this."

The board approved a $13,800 scientific survey of 400 patrons to find out what they wanted for the district, asking questions about school size and taxes.

From that survey, the board crafted the bond projects for the Nov. 4 election.

The De Soto board of education will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at the De Soto Administrative Office, 35200 W. 91st St., De Soto.

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