Piper Public Schools voters will go to the polls Thursday, Feb. 22, to vote on a $35 million school bond issue.
“This is so crucial for our kids now, to help with overcrowding,” said Piper school board vice president Ashley Biondi. There is overcrowding at three school buildings currently, she said. “We have kids split between buildings, and having to travel between buildings.”
There is a modular unit at the middle school, and there are third-graders who are between two elementary buildings currently.
The new school bond issue would address the overcrowding and add more safety for the children, she said.
Housing permits in the Piper area have increased dramatically in recent years, Biondi said.
Many classes now number 26 to 28 students in the elementary building, and the bond issue would allow the district to keep the class sizes down as low as possible, she said, which is believed to matter in student achievement.
Good schools also are a reason many people cite for moving to a community.
“Quality schools help our community thrive,” Biondi said.
The weather, if it snows on Thursday, may play a role in the outcome of the election.
While she can’t predict the weather, Biondi said she would urge, regardless of the weather, that people get out and vote, if they have not already, because of the huge impact it will have on the community if the bond issue fails.
8 things you should know about the Piper school bond election on Thursday:
1. What’s on the ballot? A $35 million bond issue that will build a new elementary school, for third to fifth grades, at 131st and Leavenworth Road. Registered voters in the Piper Public Schools district may vote.
2. When is the election? The election is from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at five voting locations in the Piper area, according to the Wyandotte County Election Commissioner’s website, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56606b47e4b0b9403ad6ff96/t/5a4bd4f1ec212d89879c2efa/1514919153183/Poll+Locations+-+USD+203+Bond+Election+022218+Alpha.pdf. Voters are assigned to polling places according to their ward and precinct numbers.
3. What are some of the features of the proposed school building? The center could have a flexible design, and could accommodate 800 or more students in two stories. It is the first phase of an expansion plan, and only the first phase is on the ballot. The new school building could open in 2020 if approved.
4. What would happen to the other schools if it is passed? West Elementary School would change into kindergarten through second grade levels; East Elementary School would be transformed into a sixth grade center; and Piper Middle School would be converted to a 7th and 8th grade center.
5. Why is the new building needed? According to district officials, there is currently overcrowding and a study has projected a 3.5 percent annual growth in enrollment in the future. New home building permits grew to 131 in 2016 and 196 in 2017. Without a new building, class sizes could increase from the current 26 to 28 students. Another modular building would have to be added if the bond issue does not pass.
6. What happened to a previous bond issue two years ago? Piper voters defeated a $67 million bond issue project two years ago, but this bond issue is smaller and would not cause as much of a tax increase as the previous proposal.
7. Will property taxes increase? Yes, about six mills, which is estimated to be about $15.07 per month on a $250,000 home, or less than 50 cents a day.
8. Where can I get more information on this bond issue? The Piper district website has a bond issue page at https://ks02212490.schoolwires.net/domain/137.
“8 things you should know about the Piper school bond election” is based on comments from Piper board vice president Ashley Biondi, Piper information, plus a previous Wyandotte Daily story on the Piper bond issue, at http://wyandottedaily.com/piper-district-plans-35-million-bond-election-for-new-school-in-february/.