Five Shawnee Mission elementary schools would be rebuilt over the next three years if voters approve the district’s latest bond issue.
The proposal asks SMSD voters to approve a property tax increase in order to raise $264 million in bonds that district officials say would fund a slate of major building and renovation projects while also helping alleviate teacher workload concerns. (You can read about how district leaders say that would work here).
The bond measure is set to go before voters in a mail-in election late next month.
Five schools identified
For some students and families, it could mean brand-new buildings.
The district has identified five schools and laid out rough timelines for rebuilding:
- John Diemer Elementary (SM South area), rebuilt in 2021
- Westwood View Elementary (SM East area), rebuilt in 2021
- Pawnee Elementary (SM West area), rebuilt in 2022
- Rushton Elementary (SM North area), rebuilt in 2023
- Tomahawk Elementary (SM East area), rebuilt in 2023
While the district may have five to 10 buildings at any given time that stand out for potential rebuilds, Superintendent Mike Fulton said during a panel discussion hosted by the district last week, that SMSD is prioritizing those with the greatest needs.
Other buildings that need major renovations or to be rebuilt may be addressed in future bond issues, he said.
“That’s how we make a decision on what goes on the list for this bond issue and what doesn’t,” Fulton said. “That’s a process that we do on an ongoing basis, and by staying on top of that list now and in the future, we can make sure our buildings stay in really good shape and we don’t get ourselves into a crisis.”
How students would be impacted by rebuilds
The timeline to rebuild these five schools was based, in part, on whether or not children would be able to attend school in the current buildings while new ones were built.
While a new Pawnee would be built on site, John Diemer and Tomahawk students would have to relocate to the former Indian Creek Middle School during potential rebuilds. Therefore, those projects could not occur at the same time.
The new Westwood View building — which has been discussed for several years — would be constructed near the current school at 50th Street and Belinder Road, on the former site of Entercom radio studios, which the district purchased in 2016.
Once Westwood View students would be moved into their new building, Rushton students would occupy the old Westwood building while their school is torn down and rebuilt, Fulton said.
“It’s nice that we’re going to be able to rebuild Rushton on site, do it the right way, but also not have to have those students travel very far,” Fulton said.
Bond issue and voting details
In addition to the five school rebuilds, the district is proposing a list of other building and maintenance projects.
That includes renovating restrooms and replacing classroom furniture at the district’s middle and high schools and upgrading heating and cooling systems and lighting in buildings around the district.
For a complete project list, you can check out the district’s informational website here.
Shawnee Mission taxpayers must be registered to vote to automatically receive a mail-in ballot for the district’s Jan. 26, 2021 bond election.
All mail-in ballots must be received by 12 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2021, at the Johnson County Election Office, 2102 E. Kansas City Road.
For more information about registering for the 2021 bond election, or the process for submitting a ballot, go here.