All Andover schools to get FEMA storm shelters if bond passes

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – KSN News is learning new information about two bond issues that were passed by the Andover school board Monday.

Combined, the proposals would cost $188.6 million.

For more than a year now, parents, community members and staff at Andover schools have worked to come up with the items on the list and now, they’re one step closer to becoming a reality.

“We knew it was time to start looking out for the future of Andover schools,” said Greg Rasmussen, Superintendent of USD 385.

The Andover School District is looking to update every school.

“From new facilities, to upgraded facilities, to additional facilities for space reasons,” explained Rasmussen.

The upgrades and additions are divided into two bond proposals.

The first one would provide upgrades to security, add more facilities, and improve district wide infrastructure. But, one of the most important items on that list, storm shelters.

“Every one of our schools and facilities will have a hardened tornado shelter that would withstand a substantial tornado, and it’s FEMA approved,” stated Rasmussen.

It was on April 26, 1991, when an F-5 tornado hit McConnell and then continued on to Andover.

In all 21 people were killed, 17 of those in the Andover area.

The tornado was first reported near Clearwater and finally lifted after being on the ground for more than an hour near El Dorado.

Twenty six years after that deadly tornado, six schools in Andover still don’t have storm shelters. If the bond is passed, six schools in the district will receive FEMA storm shelters.

Bringing peace of mind to Meadowlark principal and USD 385 parent, Dana Matheny.

“These are lives at stake. It’s vitally important that we have an area where kids can be safe and a place that’s large enough so we can fit all individuals,” said Matheny.

Meadowlark is facing another problem too. Classrooms in the school are cramped.

“It is very hard right now for her to have a place on the carpet to gather students,” said Matheny.

The limited room is forcing teachers to be creative with classroom seating.

The bond proposal would mean building a new Meadowlark Elementary on a new site south of town.

Matheny tells KSN if both bonds pass the district will see state of the art changes.

“I just can’t think of a more exciting time in the school district to be able to make an impact at every single school,” stated Matheny.

If the first bond passes, taxes will not go up. But, if the second one is approved by voters there would be an increase in the mill levy.

The tax increase of a $100,000 dollar home would be around $26 per year.

The second bond would help pay for a district swimming pool and field turf for softball and baseball fields.

The vote for these bond proposals will take place on May 9.