LARNED — Fort Larned USD 495 voters passed a $22.2 million bond issue by a 2-to-1 margin Tuesday that will construct a new elementary school. The yes votes were 1,036 and the no votes were 517.
The bond would increase property taxes $93 annually for a $75,000 house; $204 annually for a $75,000 business and $72 for 160 acres of dryland crop land.
The centerpiece of the project would be a new prekindergarten-through-grade 5 school building, but other improvements would occur at other buildings. At the high school, $5.1 million worth of improvements and additions, including construction of a multipurpose storm shelter and weight room/community fitness center, is proposed.
“We’re so happy for Larned, I think the committee was ready to break ground tonight,” said Kevin Holt, a member of the Foundation for the Future, which backed the issue. “We’re excited that the voters in the school district bought into the future for the district.
Garfield and some outlying townships were the first precincts to report. When the first votes were tallied, the committee started to relax.
“When the yes vote doubled up the nays, it calmed me down and it sent a message that it was likely that everyone was on board,” Holt said. “The whole room turned into a fun atmosphere. When you pass a bond issue, it breathes life into your schools.”
Holt said the Fort Larned administration put together a strong case for improving the district’s buildings.
“In Larned, we’re in the midst of a bright future and this is the next step,” Holt said. “There were people who worked hard to educate the public and spread the vision for the district. The work the committee invested was worthwhile. We can’t wait to get started. We feel very comfortable because there was a good turnout.”
The middle school is the newest building in the district, but it would also benefit from the bond issue. The plan calls for removing grade five from the middle school and returning those students to an elementary school setting. That would provide more space for the remaining grades at the middle school, while also placing fifth-graders back in a more appropriate setting.
USD 495 uses five buildings for elementary education, but the space is not adequate and the buildings are outdated, according to Brent Hemken, co-chairman for Foundation for the Future.
The land where the elementary school is proposed has been donated. There has also been a donation of about $250,000 towards a new wellness center at the high school which will be shared with the community.
FORT LARNED 495
$22M Bond Issue—Yes 1,036; No 517
Position 1-4—Sharon Lessard 773; Deborah Lewis 711
Position 2-5—David Sanger 1,432
Position 3-6—Kimi Bowman 1,391
Position 7—Jenny Manry 1,016; Debra Kauer 446
ROZEL USD 496
Position 1-1—Cory Reece 129
Position 2-2—Laurie Josefiak 121
Position 2-4—Kevin Milch 119
Position 7—Rochelle Miller 124
Mayor—Leon Jennings 45; Paula Catlin 15
Council (Top 2)—Gary McJunkin 46; Gary Schmidt 45; Burke Pelton 19; Joshua Smith 6
Mayor—Benny Burger 30; Thon Basom 23
Council (Top 5)—Edward Ummel 42; Kevin Greathouse 40; Denise Hoch 27; Stephanie Wagner 25; Janet Olson 24; Robert Hoch 22; Amber Wilder 19
Mayor—William Nusser 887
Ward 1—Carroll Bennett 127; Jim Simpson 90
Ward 2—Terry Clark 179; Kevin Barrett 172
Ward 3—Dennis Wilson 211; Crystal Grosfield 80; Matthew Miles Craven 33
Ward 4—Kim Barnes 118
Mayor—Nancy Wilson 36
Council (Top 2)—Erin Josefiak 33; Pam Taylor 26; Robert Lemuz 12