$223 million bond issue proposed for Shawnee Mission school projects, aquatic center; no tax increase needed

Briarwood Elementary is one of three district schools struggling with overcrowding, according to a recent demographer's report.
Briarwood Elementary is one of the district schools which will be rebuilt under a bond issue proposal.

Voters in the Shawnee Mission School District are likely to have a mail-in ballot next January with two questions on it: one will be asking for approval of a $223 million dollar bond issue for a wide range of capital projects and the other will be for approval to continue an increased local option budget assessment for the district.

The bond issue, Superintendent Jim Hinson emphasized Monday, will not require any increase in the debt service tax rate. He also pointed out that the Shawnee Mission rate dedicated to paying off bonds is less than half of other Johnson County districts. The bond issue would touch every school in the district and include rebuilding one elementary in each of the five high school districts. Briarwood and Crestview are both on the rebuild list.

The proposal also calls for a new aquatic center, tentatively at SM South, that might include an attached wellness center for students and employees. The aquatic center will include a 50-meter competition pool and diving wells. It would be the only one of its kind in the county. Beyond a dual meet, Shawnee Mission has to rent an Olathe school for its larger swim competitions. Each elementary student will get free swim lessons.

The district is negotiating with the YMCA to operate the wellness center and aquatic center which could take the operational costs off the district and give access to the public. Hinson said the negotiations with the Y are not finalized.

The long list of improvements financed by the bond issue will include:

  • New elementary (rebuild) in each of the five high schools districts
  • Potential that an additional new school will be needed based on population trends
  • Crestview, Trailwood, Briarwood, Benninghoven. on rebuild list (SM West area not yet identified)
  • Separate cafeterias from gymnasiums in each school (Brookwood requires an addition)
  • Full service kitchens at each school (Corinth, Diemer, Tomahawk, Westwood View require remodel)
  • Terraflex floor to replace carpet in gym at elementary schools
  • Early education sites in each feeder area (Highlands and Crestview for SM East and SM North)
  • Replace field turf at high schools (stadium sites, and add additional practice field)
  • HVAC work all around district
  • Roof replacement and ceiling tile replacement
  • Plumbing and electrical
  • Security upgrades completed so all schools are secure (including high school front entries)
  • Upgrade Little Theater in each high school
  • Furniture and media center upgrades
  • Structural upgrade to SM South stadium
  • Aquatic center with 50-meter competition pool and diving wells
  • Upgrades to pools at each high school
  • Potential addition of wellness center next to aquatic center for students and employees

A special school board meeting has been called for October 6 to act on the ballot issues.