If Great Bend USD 428 is able to add tornado-resistant storm shelters to all of its schools, there’s a possibility they could be community shelters when school is not in session, Superintendent Khris Thexton told an audience at the Great Bend Senior Center.
Ballots for Great Bend USD 428’s bond elections will be mailed to registered voters in the district next week, and supporters have been taking information to the public. Thexton spoke at the Senior Center on Tuesday and at noon Wednesday he’ll speak to Barton County Young Professionals at Gambino’s Pizza, 1309 Main.
The program hasn’t changed since Thexton presented it earlier this month at the Front Door and Great Bend High School. He shows what would be done at each building if the two bond questions totaling nearly $45 million are approved, and takes questions from the audience.
The question of access came from the audience Tuesday when one man asked, “Would we be able to use the shelter on a weekend?”
“We would not be opposed to that,” Thexton said. It would take some coordination with the Great Bend Fire Department and Emergency Management. A shelter added to the Panther Activity Center (PAC) at Great Bend High School could also come in handy is a tornado warning was issued during a football game, he suggested.
Storm shelters are just one piece of two bond questions. Safety and security measures include creating secure main entrances at all eight school buildings and installing intruder hardware on all classroom doors in all buildings. Relocating main entrances and parking lots at three elementary schools and at Great Bend Middle School is also part of a plan to solve drop-off and pick-up problems.
Adding a new wing for sixth-graders at GBMS and moving students there is also a goal. With the sixth-graders moved, there will be room to add preschool classrooms at every elementary school. Once those are built, any 4-year-old in the district will be able to attend a free neighborhood preschool, Thexton said.
All of the plans can be seen online at greatbendschools.net/bond.
Another question asked Tuesday was when additional phases of the USD 428 Facilities Master Plan would be implemented. The original master plan presented to the school board in January included a $33 million Phase 2 and an $11 million Phase 3. Administrators explain that while all three phases represent projected needs or the next 20-30 years. USD 428 is only pursuing Phase 1 at this time and has not set a timeline or intention to pursue other phases. The bonds for this project would be paid back over 20 years.
Question One asks the voters to approve $41,750,000 for school improvements.
Question Two is only an option if Question One passes. For the second question, voters are asked if they want to approve an additional $3,120,000, which would pay for another gymnasium and locker rooms at Great Bend Middle School.
Ballots will be mailed to voters who live within the boundaries of the school district on Aug. 20. After people receive their ballots, they can mail them to the courthouse in the self-addressed stamped envelope provided with the ballot or they can hand-deliver them to the second floor of the courthouse. Either way, ballots must be at the county clerk’s office by noon on Sept. 5 to be counted.