Friday, January 3, 2014

Bond Issue Talks Continue



                                                
Board of Education members spent more than three hours Thursday night talking about proposed school improvements and a possible bond issue to pay for them.  No decision was made last night on whether to approve the $142 million bond issue and place it on the April ballot.  The bond issue would, among other things, cover increased security across the school district.  It calls for digital security camera systems at all schools and buildings.  Currently camera systems are only at the high schools and one middle school.  Safety and security window film would be installed at all schools and buildings.  FEMA approved shelters would be built at 12 schools. 

Avondale West, Shaner and Bishop Elementary Schools would close under the proposed plan.  Avondale West and Shaner are among the smallest schools in the district.  Bishop has an open floor plan which makes security at the school very difficult. 

To increase the number of pre-school students the district could serve, Shaner Elementary would be converted into a pre-kindergarten school.  Due to lack of meeting space for large gatherings for professional development, Bishop Elementary would be turned into a professional development center. Discussion is underway about how to re-purpose Avondale West Elementary.

Students from Bishop, Avondale West and Shaner would attend a new elementary school that would be built next to Jardine Middle School creating the district’s third PreK-8 campus.  High school students at Capital City Schools would move to the nearby Boisen Building while the Capital City building would become the new home of the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers or TCALC.

Technology enhancements would occur throughout the school district.  The plan calls for digital textbooks for all middle school and high school students, TelePresence classrooms at all high schools  as well as off-campus internet and network access.

The bond issue would also cover the renovation of science classrooms at all middle schools and high schools.  Air conditioning would be added to gymnasiums at all middle and high schools.  Currently, none of those schools have gyms that are air conditioned.

Board of Education members will continue their discussion of a possible bond issue when they hold a special board of education meeting January 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Burnett Administrative Center.