USD 343 will ask patrons to consider a bond issue during the November 7, 2023, election that will address various needs for facilities throughout the District while at the same time not increasing the current mill levy. During the past two years, the District conducted facility assessments and met with a facility planning committee composed of 25 community members to discuss items that would or would not be supported. Here is an overview of goals and areas to be addressed as identified by this community planning committee.
A new bond issue must remain at the current mill levy or be lower. The USD 343 Board of Education is firm on this goal. This means that all facility improvements within the scope of a new bond issue will be limited in terms of a budget that must fit into this goal. This goal will be possible because the bond issue passed by voters in 2005 will be paid in full in 2024. If a new bond issue is approved with the same mill levy rate, it will begin in 2024. In other words, the same mill rate for the 2005 bond issue would continue with a new bond with no mill rate increases. The current mill rate will generate over 17 million in funding over a 20-year time frame.
The areas selected for improvement are safe school entrances, additional classroom space at Lecompton Elementary and the Daycare, an update to the PLHS theater, additional practice gym space close to the middle school/high school, and updated baseball and softball facilities.
The safe school entrance will provide controlled access at the office of each school building and will include a shatterproof film added to glass on the doors and windows at the point of entry. The control point will allow visitors to enter the office area and speak face-to-face with a school employee before being granted access to the academic areas. This project will require relocating the office setting at Perry-Lecompton High School.
The additional classroom space for Lecompton Elementary and Perry Elementary/Daycare will be achieved by adding seven classrooms and additional restrooms to Lecompton Elementary. Four classrooms will enable the Kindergarten grade level to move from the Perry Elementary Building/Daycare to Lecompton Elementary. This move will allow the Daycare to expand and meet our communities' ever-growing demand for childcare. The remaining three new classrooms at Lecompton Elementary will allow for the needed space for special education and music and will eliminate the need for the modular classroom.
Due to the high cost of building a new theater, the committee suggested a remodel of the current theater space. A renovated theater would include a larger stage, new dressing room space, extending the side walls to the ceiling to create an enclosed area, permanent theater seating on the lower level, and replacing the retractable bleacher seating in the back of the theater area.
Adding practice gym space south of the high school will eliminate the need for students to drive off campus or rely on busing for practices at the old Lecompton High School gym or the Highland gym. The Lecompton High School and Highland Gyms require high-cost repairs, including roofing, HVAC/air conditioning, plumbing, insulation, and floor repair. This facility will also allow for needed gym space during the school day as students in grades 5 through 12 are enrolled in physical education classes throughout the school day. Original plans allowed for District Office space to be included in this facility; however, a more affordable option has been found.
Finally, the bond plan calls for one baseball and one softball field to be built south of the high school parking lot. This facility will meet the needs of the high school students and the entire community, as summer softball and baseball programs need more areas for practices and games throughout the busy summer schedule. The Perry-Lecompton ball association uses the current varsity baseball and softball fields along with Lecompton Elementary and Lecompton High School. The existing varsity facilities need repair, including new lighting, backstop fencing, restroom facilities, concessions, bleacher seating, scoreboard (baseball), and outfield fencing (baseball). One of the most critical areas to be addressed with the relocation of baseball and softball facilities is the current parking situation. Ball fields located south of the high school will have adequate parking for softball, and baseball games played simultaneously, which would be a welcomed change for all baseball and softball fans. By placing this facility south of the high school, it would be adjacent to the new gym space that could be utilized for indoor baseball and softball practices, thus eliminating the need for students to drive for indoor practices at the Lecompton High School gym and the Highland gym. This placement would also allow for a newly expanded restroom and a concession facility that can be used for softball, baseball, and activities in the gym facilities.
The District and committee members have reviewed current district facility needs for the past 18 months. The proposed bond issue addresses the need for buildings that are more safe and secure for our students. Additionally, all committee members valued the student experience of extracurricular activities. Committee members feel this bond proposal will address outdated facilities that have fallen behind the standard that has been set at many 3A school districts in Kansas.