Columbus Schools Seek $30.6 Million for Construction/Renovation - KOAM TV 7

Columbus Schools Seek $30.6 Million for Construction/Renovation

Updated: April 23, 2014: For years Kyle Rennie and his family have owned farm land in Cherokee County, Kansas. He says his taxes are getting out of hand.

"Farmers are going to funding the most of this because they own most of the property in the district," said Rennie.

The $30.6 million proposal has caused division among neighbors inside city limits and out.

Lifelong resident of Columbus Corey Tedlock concerns are for his children and wife a teacher at a school in the district.

"In the past I've seen her (wife), two of her aids and 20 kids fit in a bathroom that's roughly 6x6 and that's their storm shelter," said Tedlock.

David Carrigher superintendent of the district says he hears both sides.

"Some people are on fixed income especially our farmers in the state of Kansas," said Carrigher.

Carrigher says the 22 mills levy tax increase the district anticipated will be reduced by $4 million.

Read more about the proposal below.

Community, staff and students are rallying tonight at 6:00 pm  in Columbus to kick off a campaign for a $30.6 million dollar bond issue on the May 6th ballot.
The plan that will impact all students in some way. 

Class changes at the Central campus means  4th through 8th graders must go outside. Its a big issue for the principal.

Jim Bolden says, "The  security and safety of our students and staff as we our outside here I have five buildings that are not connected so every time we have a class period  change the students are outside  and it doesn't matter if its 110 or ten below zero."

Students keep coats with them at their desks in classrooms that have motel doors -- opening directly outside and often remaining open.

Highland elementary which was built in the 1930's would be closed. School officials say its age creates all kinds of problems.

Superintendent David Carriger says, "Mechanical systems are just from  1930's '40s
'50s  that are just obsolete trying to find parts  trying to put in new modern systems with electrical systems put in in '30's '50s,   bringing any new technology into the buildings is a nightmare."

Highland principal Amber Wheeler agrees and adds, "There's no way to create space in older buildings. You have finite number of rooms and we  use every space  imaginable."

So the district wants to build a new two story school for those in first through eighth grades.

Carriger says, "I think its more efficient to run a facility like that. To have all of our teachers for the most part  in one  location. We can provide better services, more efficient services, easier on transportation, of course special ed services, some of those support mechanisms those things a school system needs.  Utility costs have really killed us especially with the open campus at Central with multiple buildings."

The facilities  plan includes renovations to add an art science area at the high school
and  a new  football stadium where the center section of seating is off limits from damage. Plus improvements at the preschool kindergarten center and  all include  storm shelters..small  bathrooms serve that  purpose now.
District officials say its been 30 years since they've turned to voters for help and hope the time is right now. 

An average home in Columbus is $77 thousand dollars. Taxes on a $75 thousand dollar home would increase $189 dollars a year.
 In Kansas, it will cost  more for farmers with agricultural land and that's where the superintendent expects some opposition.
The superintendent also says its an important time to try to pass the bond. "Interest rates are low and for  the opportunity to get state money. They give us 34 percent of the project costs that's a huge help for our district know legislation in Topeka that could be taken away on some bonds issues after July 1st."

You can find a link to the complete  proposal  just click here
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