Questions and Answers

What is the purpose of the proposed bond issue?

The purpose of the proposed bond is to address the district’s growth, safety and security, technology, and aging facility needs. The $156 million bond election would provide classroom space for a growing student population, safe and secure schools, along with greater access to instructional technology. A major element of this bond election includes funds to build a 10th middle school.

How much will the bond issue be for?

The Board of Education, district administration and a patron-based bond task force have studied the needs of the district and have determined that a bond issue of $156 million would effectively help the district address current and future growth, safety and security, aging facility and technology needs.

How will this bond issue impact me financially?

Projects within this bond proposal will not increase the mill (tax) rate currently levied to pay off bonds. The district currently levies 16.471 mills to pay off the bonds. This number would not change with this bond election. The Board can control the mill levy rate, but cannot control increases or decreases in assessed valuation.  If assessed valuations go up, your tax bill will go up.  If they go down, your tax bill will go down.  But the rate for our bond and interest levy will not exceed 16.471 mills.

With the approval of voters, school districts sell bonds to investors to fund the construction of new schools and other facilities and purchase of equipment, or to pay for renovation of existing buildings. This makes bonds different than the school district’s operating levy, which is used to pay for salaries, textbooks and other day-to-day expenses. Bonds are for brick-and-mortar projects only and cannot be legally used for anything else.

How does a bond like this improve my property values?

As is often noted by local municipalities and their chambers of commerce, school districts are an integral component to economic development. Businesses like to be located in areas in which the families that work for them have access to quality schools. Quality schools are not only a component of what goes on within the classroom but also the condition of the classroom. Overcrowded schools and schools in need of repair affect the education of the students who attend them as well as the perception the community has of the overall quality of the district, just as poorly maintained homes do to a neighborhood. If the district is not viewed as being of high quality, economic growth slows and ultimately property values decline.

Why now?

The Olathe School District has grown every year for the past 40 years. Due to this consistent and steady enrollment growth, Mission Trail Middle School currently has 800 students and is expected to grow by nearly 300 more students in the next five years and keep growing in a building that is already near capacity. Prairie Trail Middle School has about 850 students and will grow by approximately 130 in the next five years. In order to make sure students have the adequate space they need for learning, the district needs to begin the building of a new middle school as soon as possible. In addition, due to the opportunity to have a bond that would not increase the mill (tax) rate currently levied to pay off bonds, now is also a prudent time financially for a bond vote to be considered by taxpayers.

Can bond dollars be used to hire more teachers or lower class sizes?

Bond money cannot be used toward operating expenses, such as salaries. These bond funds, according to Kansas statute, can only be used on capital projects such as building construction and maintenance projects. That means that any money raised through an approved bond issue cannot be used to pay for additional teachers or to lower class sizes. However, the money will be used to create better learning environments for students in the district.

Why is it necessary to upgrade facilities and what types of facility upgrades will be a part of the bond?

More than half of the district’s school buildings are more than 20 years old. It is important to the district to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars by taking good care of existing facilities. Due to budget reductions in the past, many maintenance projects were delayed. It is vital that projects to maintain the district’s current facilities are made in order to continue to provide high quality learning environments for students.

In addition, replacement of windows and doors in some of the district’s older buildings will provide an opportunity for additional energy efficiency.

What upgrades would be made to technology and why?

The district’s goal is to provide great student access to technology to better prepare students for the global world. This bond would provide the district with the ability to continue student access to technology devices in the classroom, enhance digital classrooms to acquire newer versions of proven devices or next generation devices, and upgrade infrastructure and network hardware.

How will this bond improve student achievement?

Research has shown us that students learn best in high quality educational environments. Students learn best in safe, positive and secure environments. It is the goal of the Board of Education and district staff to use bond dollars to enhance the district’s facilities, continue the tradition of continuous academic progress, while maintaining space for growth.