The $13.25 million McPherson school bond issue passed easily Tuesday by a 4-to-1 margin.

The $13.25 million McPherson school bond issue passed easily Tuesday by a 4-to-1 margin.

On Tuesday, 1,421 USD 418 residents voted for the bond, and 326 voted against it.

“It is a great night to live in McPherson,” McPherson Superintendent Randy Watson said. “The community support for our schools has always been strong. I would like to thank the staff and voters. I look forward to completing these projects over the next two years.”

The bond will replace a bond from the 1990s, which is due to expire. The new bond will result in a lower bond and interest mill levy, dipping from the current amount of 6.497 mills to an estimated 5.5 mills.

Jeff Johnson, McPherson school board vice president, said in the process of discussion the bond, the board wished to make improvements without raising taxes.

“I think there was strong support for what we put together,” he said. “We were conservative and focused on education and not a lot of wants.”

Work will be done at McPherson High School and Lincoln, Roosevelt and Washington Elementary schools.

At McPherson High School, a production welding and machining shop will be added, and science classrooms that have settled due to the drought will be repaired and upgraded.

At Lincoln and Roosevelt Elementary schools, changes will include new cafeterias and warming kitchens to aid scheduling. At Washington Elementary School, the 1950s addition will be rebuilt. The new addition will be more energy efficient and include more instructional space. The project also will include expanded parking.

The bond will include roof repairs at various locations in the district.

The first step now the bond has passed is for the board to work with a bond counsel to sell the bonds.
The work on the science classrooms at the high school will be completed first. The school board will take bids on that project within the next couple of weeks, Watson said. The work at Lincoln and Roosevelt will be done next. That work could begin as early as this fall. Watson said with the exception of a little noise, classes should not be disrupted at the elementary schools during construction.

The work at Washington will require preschool students at that building to be relocated at Lincoln and Roosevelt for a school year until construction is completed. That project will be completed last, likely in the 2014-15 school year, with the preschool room moving back to Washington in the 2015-16 school year, Watson said.

The machining and welding building is a new addition, which can be done at anytime during the bond construction. A timeline has not yet been set on that project, Watson said.

Terry Krier, McPherson school board president, said the bond issue will help the district meet its college and career readiness goals.

“The enhancements at the elementary schools will help the reading and physical education programs,” he said. “At the high school, the machinist and welding building will be very important for those students not seeking post-secondary education in the future.

“Welding is a high-skilled area that people are seeking. I think those not interested in going to college will be helped by that program.”

Watson called the new machining and welding program a home-run for students who do not plan to go to college. Production welding is one of the highest paying jobs in central Kansas that does not require a college degree, he said.

Krier and Johnson said the bond also is important to maintaining the current facilities. The roof repairs will be able to be done more quickly as a result of the bond. The bond also will ensure the science classrooms are up-to-date and functional for future students.

“The money we are spending at the high school is going to save taxpayers,” Krier said of the science classroom repairs.

Krier said he thought McPherson voters made a wise decision in passing the bond.

“I would like to thank the voters of the school district for their support of the bond issue,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of the bond.”