RICHMOND — Patrons of the Central Heights school district soon will face the question of whether to support a $1.75-million bond issue or delay improvements to district facilities.

If approved by voters on a June 4 mail-in ballot, Jim White, superintendent of Central Heights schools, said the bond would fund several improvements for the district. The improvements include the construction, equipment and furnishing of a new music room, locker room, kitchen, improved seating in the gymnasium and auditorium, as well as replacing the original building’s roof, which was built in 1967, White said.

“The reason a bond issue was considered the most cost-effective for district patrons was the state would pay 46 percent of an approved bond issue,” White wrote to patrons in a March 16 letter. “So, you see why a bond issue is the most cost effective funding source for district improvements, the state will send back to the district 46 percent of the cost of each bond payment. You, as a district taxpayer, would recapture some of the money — 46 percent of the bond issue — you have already sent to Topeka and put it back to work for USD 288.”  

If voted in, local taxpayers would encounter a 3 mill increase for 14 years, White said, equating to $34.50 per year on a $100,000 home. The relatively low levy should make the bond issue an appealing option for taxpayers, he said, considering the state plans to reclaim nearly half the cost.

The plans have thoroughly been discussed by the school board for several years, White said, and the improvements address some of the district’s most urgent needs.

“[Feedback] has been positive,” White said. “The [patrons] that I have spoken with see the needs as we have outlined them. But I’ve heard also that there are folks out there that think this is not a good time to be increasing taxes, but it will be only a minimal increase.”

In addition to better facilities, the prospective plans should provide better educational opportunities for students, White said. What’s more, he added, bond rates might never be this low again.

“I don’t think there will ever be a time that’s better to undertake these upgrades — we’ll have great financing and the bond rates will be low,” White said. “One thing I would reinforce with the voters is that the facilities need these upgrades. ... I believe with improved facilities we will see an improved learning environment that will lead to higher academic achievement for our students.”

The full bond issue’s question, as it will appear on the mail-in ballot, reads:

Shall the following be adopted?

Shall Unified School District No. 288, Franklin County, Kansas (Central Heights), issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $1,750,000, to pay the costs to construct, equip and furnish additions to the existing district school building, including a new music room, new locker room, new roof, and kitchen, gymnasium and auditorium improvements and make all other necessary improvements related thereto; all pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A 10-101 ET SEQ.; K.S.A 25-2018(F); K.S.A. 72-6761; AND K.S.A. 75-2315 ET SEQ.?