Bond Issue FAQ

Posted March 22, 2017

Q: What would the no tax increase bond issue pay for?

A: The $38 million bond would pay for a new elementary school with a capacity of 450-500 students at 31st Street and Hardy Avenue. The new elementary school would ease overcrowding and eliminate all elementary mobile trailers in the district. This new elementary school would open in the summer of 2019.

The bond would also pay for updates to all three ISD high schools, including a new entry at Truman High School along with exterior upgrades to address safety concerns and modernize the building. Four additional classrooms would be added to move the four math classrooms out of mobile trailers and into the school, allowing the mobiles to be torn down. The bond would also expand and remodel the lunchroom, remodel science classrooms and add a physical therapy and athletic training classroom space for the Academies.

At Van Horn High School, the bond would pay for five commercial kitchens to be used by all three high schools for our Culinary Pathway. A new competition gym would be added with locker rooms, concession stands and a mezzanine for wrestling and seating. The bond would expand parking, add a metals classroom, wood shop, remodel science classrooms and add a physical therapy and athletic training classroom space for the Academies.

At William Chrisman High School, the bond would pay for four additional classrooms including two Cisco computer networking rooms for the Academies. A weight room would also be added, allowing the wrestling room to move to the existing weight room. The bond would also pay to remodel science classrooms and add a physical therapy and athletic training classroom space for the Academies.

Q: How did the district decide on the proposed projects?

A: These projects were identified by patrons, parents, students, teachers and community members through our Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) process. We have more than $100 million in improvements we’d like to do for our schools but $38 million allows this to remain a no tax increase bond.

Q: What would the timeline be for the proposed projects?

A: The project completion dates are approximate as weather and building conditions play a role. We would like for the projects to begin right away once the bond passes. The new elementary school would be completed in the summer of 2019. The William Chrisman High School addition would be completed by February of 2018. The planned completion for Van Horn High School is November 2018. At Truman High School, the classrooms and lunchroom completion date is February of 2018. The front entry at Truman would be finished by August 2018. Science classroom remodels at all high schools will be phased in during the summers of 2018 and 2019.

Q: Why do we need a new elementary school?

A: Building a new elementary school would reduce overcrowding at Fairmount, Korte and Three Trails. The new elementary would potentially house the ELL elementary program, creating space at Nowlin Middle School for future student growth.

Q: What will the cost be for taxpayers?

A: This bond issue requires no tax increase.

Q: How can a bond be issued without a tax increase?

A: Thanks to the fiscal responsibility of the Independence School District, we are able to run this bond issue without raising taxes. The ISD has refinanced more than $135,000,000, saving taxpayers more than $7.5 million since 2011. The district has refinanced bonds at every opportunity and aggressively paid down existing debt so an increase in taxes is not needed to issue bonds for the projects. Thanks to the district’s conservative budgeting and dropping interest rates, we have enough room in our debt service levy to issue bonds to cover the cost of the bond projects with no tax increase.

Q: What is a bond issue?

A: A bond allows a school district to establish a tax rate to pay off debt over time. Bond funds may be used for facility projects and may not be used for operational costs such as salaries and supplies.

Q: What is required to pass the bond issue?

A: In order for the bond issue to pass, a 4/7 majority must be reached or 57.1 percent plus one vote.

Q: What will happen if voters do not approve the no tax increase bond issue?

A: If the no tax increase bond issue is not approved, the outlined projects will not be completed and taxes will not decrease.

Q: What will happen to the picture of Harry and Bess Truman inside Truman High School?

A:  The wall with the picture of Harry and Bess will come down to improve security and sightlines. The picture of Harry and Bess Truman will either be displayed in the entry or be relocated to the library. We wanted to make sure to preserve that!

Q: What is the ISD’s enrollment and how quickly is the district growing?

A:  The ISD continues to grow steadily. We have a current enrollment of nearly 14,500 students. We’ve grown by 1,500 since the 2008-2009 school year, with a majority of this growth in the Van Horn attendance area. We work with demographers to project future growth.

Q: Are there plans for another high school?

A:  The ISD does own land south of Little Blue Elementary where a future high school could be built. There is not a timeline currently to build a fourth high school based on demographer projections but that could change as homes are built in the valley along Little Blue Parkway.

Q: How was the location for the new elementary chosen?

A:  Some people have asked about the nearby golf course and why that wasn’t chosen as the new elementary school site. The site development costs were much less with Cassell Park. The cost of the site development would have been significantly more expensive at the golf course because of the terrain and we always want to be good stewards of tax payer dollars. We were also told the golf course access points would have been much more expensive to develop. With the school at 31st Street and Hardy Avenue we would have two main roads to help ease traffic flow.

Q: How many mobile trailers does this district have and would this eliminate all of them?

The Independence School District currently has mobile trailers at Truman High School. Fairmount Elementary, Korte Elementary, Three Trails Elementary and Benton Elementary. There are seven trailers with 14 classrooms.  The bond would allow us to eliminate all mobile trailers by building a new elementary school and adding classrooms at Truman, Van Horn and William Chrisman.

Q: Are sidewalks planned for the new elementary school?

Sidewalks are in the plans for the property that includes the new elementary school. The district only controls where sidewalks go on property we own.

Q: How would boundaries be impacted if the bond passes?

Boundaries would be impacted only at the elementary level and only for those schools feeding the new elementary.  The new elementary school at 31st and Hardy would have a capacity of 450-500 students. This would ease overcrowding and eliminate all mobile trailers in the district. The new elementary would open in the summer of 2019. Similar to the boundary process when Little Blue and Mallinson were built, the boundaries for the new school would be determined after the passage of the bond. Students impacted by a change of boundaries would have the option to attend the new school or stay at their current school. If a student chooses to attend their current school but lives in the new school area, parents would need to provide their own transportation.