New high school slated for Piper district’s plan; mail-in ballot to go to voters

Building plan addresses high growth rate in Piper’s enrollment

by Mary Rupert

A new high school at 131st and Leavenworth Road is on a special mail-in election ballot for the Piper School District.

The bond issue has a cap of $67.5 million to construct, equip, furnish and repair district buildings, including a new high school plus remodeling other school buildings.

Most ballots will be mailed to registered voters in Piper around May 20 and must be returned to the election office by noon June 9, said Election Commissioner Bruce Newby. He said if the ballot is not returned to the office by noon June 9, it does not count. He urged voters to send back their ballots right away after receiving them. If it is too close to the June 9 deadline, he said, voters may have to drop off the ballots in person at the Election Office, 850 State Ave., before noon June 9.

One of the prominent features of the school district improvements will be a new high school to be built at 131st and Leavenworth Road, on property the district has owned for about 10 years. The property is 75 acres on the south side of Leavenworth Road, currently used as agricultural land, said Piper Superintendent Tim Conrad. The target opening date would be the fall of 2018.

The new high school would accommodate up to 1,100-plus students, he said. Existing buildings would be reconfigured. Under the plan, the existing high school would become a middle school with grades 6 to 8, then the existing middle school would become grades 3 and 4, and the east elementary building would become just grade 5. The Piper elementary building would become kindergarten through second grade.

According to district information, the decision to build the high school all at once, and not in a phased-in approach, would take advantage of current construction costs and low interest rates.

A study has shown that the median price of an owner-occupied home in the Piper area is about $199,500, and with this bond issue, those taxpayers would pay from about $21 to $28 a month additionally, according to Conrad. It is about $1.10 a day, school officials pointed out.

Piper’s current mill levy is 59.536, which is higher than the Turner and Kansas City, Kan., districts, but lower than Bonner Springs, Basehor-Linwood, DeSoto-Mill Valley, Blue Valley, Spring Hill, Gardner, Olathe and Eudora, according to district information.

Studies have shown an average of about 5 percent increase in enrollment during the last five years in the Piper district, Conrad said. This year, there has been a 6.5 percent increase, and there is an anticipated 5 to 6 percent increase each year for the next 15 years, he said. The 6 percent increase this year equals about 115 extra students in the district, he added.

In another two or three years, the existing elementary school will be at capacity, and in another five years, the existing high school building will be at capacity, according to district information.

The discussion about the new school buildings began long before the school finance discussions this year. It has been about 15 months since the process started, with a facility advisory committee made up of patrons, surveys, information and opportunities for residents to comment.

The study group considered several solutions and settled on a new high school as the best long-term solution, according to district information.

The mail-in ballots are being sent to all persons who have been registered voters of the Piper district by May 11, Newby said. Anyone registering to vote between May 11 and 19 will have to specifically request a ballot, and ballots will not be sent automatically to them, he added.

Newby said that the wrong election information dates were on some information that has been mailed out to the district’s voters recently through a third party that has been handling a mailer. Those incorrect dates were not checked with his office first, he added.

More detailed information about the project can be found on the school district’s website at Piperschools.com.

Anyone with questions about the ballots may call the Election Office, 913-573-8500 or visit the website at www.wycokck.org/election.

Being a firefighter is not as easy as you think

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum

I had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes of what it takes to be a firefighter.

As a child I wanted to be a firefighter. How fun it would be to ride on a fire engine putting out fires and helping people as well.

While there recently, I really had the chance to know the firefighters behind-the-scenes, the individuals, their personalities and what they’re made of. I had the chance to talk to them, including the assistant chief Pete Reberry, and two other firefighters. They were Shawn Lampson and Olinton Shumate.

When I talked to Pete he explained to me about the duty board that was retired. This board has been retired since 1992, he said. In the future, like other departments, the fire department is going to go totally digital. They have to keep up with the times. They really have to take care of the equipment; here we take pride in what we do, Pete said.

As I proceeded upstairs I had a chance to have dinner and really get to know them. Many of them are family men who believe in the community, believe in the department and of course believe in the family as well. These are people of high honor, respected within the community. Many of them do a lot of volunteer work within the community.

One firefighter, Shawn Lampson, is relatively new to the fire department, and has been there 6.5 years. He is married and has a 10-month-old baby at home. He got his degree from Kansas City Kansas Community College in fire science. He also has a bachelor’s degree in business.

He said his goals are to try to get a position as a driver, and that will be possible when he has seven years of experience. He said this was a great career, and he plans to be here for the rest of his life. Like any job it has its good and bad points, he said, however the good points outweigh the bad many times over. He said he really enjoyed being here; everybody he works with is great, and they really work as a team. They all get along with each other, he said. At times it may be stressful, especially at home, however, his wife understands. He tries to spend as much time as possible with his family, he said, and he can’t wait until his newborn gets older, how much fun he and his wife will have.

Another firefighter I interviewed was Olinton Shumate. He is a 25-year veteran. The reason he became a firefighter is he really enjoys helping people, he said. He plans to retire from the department. This is his career and he really enjoys it, he said.

After the evening was over I learned a lot. It is not as easy as you think being a firefighter. They go to a lot of education and training. It takes a lot in today’s society to be a firefighter and it takes a different type of person to be a firefighter.

As I left the fire station I thought about the legacy of the Fire Department. Many years ago I had the opportunity to know former Fire Chief J.T. Crossland, who was a phenomenal man himself. This year I had the great opportunity to get to know Chief John Paul Jones and many members of his staff.

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

The old duty board. (Photo by William Crum)
The old duty board. (Photo by William Crum)

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
A fireman’s prayer, at the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

Behind the scenes with the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)
Remembering the fallen from the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department. (Photo by William Crum)

Injury-accidents reported on I-70

An injury-accident was reported about 1:05 p.m. Saturday, April 25, on I-70 from the 3rd Street exit near Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kan., according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.

A Chrysler car lost control while negotiating a curve on wet pavement and struck the left barrier wall, according to the trooper’s report.

The driver, a 79-year-old man from Benton, Ark., had a possible injury and was taken to the hospital.

A passenger, a 14-year-old girl from Benton, Ark., also had a possible injury and was taken to the hospital, the report stated.

Another unrelated accident was reported about 7:24 a.m. Saturday, April 25, on westbound I-70 west of the 57th Street exit.

According to the Kansas Turnpike Authority trooper’s report, a Chevrolet van was westbound in the right lane when it drifted onto the right shoulder, swerved to avoid a vehicle on the shoulder, went across all three lanes and struck a barrier wall.

The driver, a 19-year-old Kansas City, Kan., man, was injured and taken to a hospital. He was not wearing a seat belt, the report stated.