Leavenworth Board of Education members are considering a proposal for a $42 million school bond issue.

Leavenworth Board of Education members are considering a proposal for a $42 million school bond issue.

The proposal was presented to board members Jan. 17 by a representative of DLR Group, an architectural and engineering firm that was hired by the school district to assist with a possible bond issue.

Board members have taken no action on the proposal. They plan to discuss the matter again during a Feb. 6 special meeting.

The bond proposal is supported by a group of community members who were assembled to study the issue. The group is called the vision team.

The bond issue would add on to Richard Warren Middle School. Another building, which has not yet been identified, would be refurbished to serve as an early education center. Earl Lawson Elementary School would be closed.

The bond issue also would pay for improvements at other school buildings including the creation of collaboration spaces.

Grade configurations would change for the elementary schools and the middle school.

All prekindergarten and kindergarten classes would be housed at the early education center. Grades one through four would remain at the elementary schools. Grades five and six would be housed in an addition at Warren Middle School. Seventh- and eighth-grade classes would remain at the middle school.

The bond issue would address overcrowding issues at Warren Middle School and Henry Leavenworth Elementary School.

According to figures presented to board members Jan. 17, the middle school has an enrollment of 704. Henry Leavenworth Elementary has an enrollment of 568.

With the change in the grade configuration that would result from the bond issue, Henry Leavenworth Elementary's enrollment would decrease to 383.

With the addition of fifth-grade classes, Warren Middle School's enrollment would increase to 958. But the design capacity for the school would increase to 1,052.

School officials have not identified a specific building in Leavenworth that could be converted into the early education center. During the Jan. 17 board meeting, Amber Beverlin with DLR Group provided photographs of an early education center in Kearney, Missouri, that opened in what was formerly a supermarket.

In support of the recommendation of closing Lawson Elementary, Beverlin said the school has a declining student population. She also noted there are concerns about increased commercial businesses in the area of the school. She also argued that the site is not appropriately sized and does not have adequate space for parking and dropping off students.

Leavenworth Superintendent Mike Roth said the Lawson building could be used for other purposes. He said the district's administrative offices could be moved to Lawson. The programs currently housed at the Nettie Hartnett Education Center could be moved to the Lawson building as well.

“You would basically combine two buildings into one,” he said.

Under this scenario, the school district could sell the Nettie Hartnett building and the site that currently houses the administrative offices.

If board members adopt the $42 million bond issue, it would be put before voters for approval.

With bonds from an earlier school bond issue about to be paid off, the proposed $42 million bond issue could be implemented without increasing the district's mill levy from its current level, according to Roth.

The mill levy is used in determining property taxes.

During the Jan. 17 board meeting, board members Loyal Torkelson and Nancy Klemp raised questions about the proposal.

Klemp said Friday that she does not want to close Lawson Elementary School. She also believes the school district's needs can be satisfied for less than $42 million.

“I think we need to think outside the box a little more,” she said.

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