Derby Public Schools sets bond election for renovations

DERBY, Kan. (KSNW) – Derby Public Schools is set to have a bond election on February 20.

Residents in the school district will be presented with three different bond questions.

The first bond question will focus on safety and security, efficiency and growth, deferred maintenance, and curriculum and program equity. These areas were identified by a community committee as major concerns in the school district.

The bond will address safety and security by adding storm shelters to Park Hill, Tanglewood and Wineteer Elementary Schools.

Sedgwick County Emergency Management has looked at Derby schools and made recommendations on what spaces are safest to use as a shelter, but officials said the areas aren’t safe enough.

“When you have buildings that have over 500 students and staff members, using the bathrooms like we’ve been taught to use when we were kids in school, you can’t get all those folks in the bathroom,” said operations director Joe Dessenberger. “Somebody is left out in a less protected area.”

The district also wants to add intruder locks to classrooms.

“We’ve had incidents that have occurred in our neighborhoods, around our schools or at our schools, where we’ve had to go into lockdown,” said Dessenberger.

If an intruder was to come into a school, teachers would have to exit their classroom to lock the door from the outside, putting students in harm’s way.

“The intruder locks would provide for a panic mechanism on the inside of the door that would allow the teacher to quickly lock down the room,” Dessenberger said.

Another area of focus is maintenance, such as: boiler replacements, HVAC upgrades and plumbing system replacements.

According to school officials, many of the schools were built in the 1950’s and are starting to show their age.

“We fight steam leaks everyday during the heating season,” said Dessenberger. “We see spikes in classroom temperatures of up to 100 degrees because the unit ventilators in the rooms are failing.”

Dessenberger added that these environmental issues cause teachers and students to lose concentration and it become a distraction.

The bond plan also includes closing Pleasantview Elementary.

Other areas the bond hopes to address include:

  • Efficiency and growth: Officials want to build a new elementary in the Stone Creek area
  • Curriculum and program equity: The district wants to add more physical education space at Derby High School and address the limited student resource spaces.

This plan would cost around $114 million.

The other two bond questions ask residents to vote on the addition of a Panther Activity Center and upgrades of athletic facilities.

The total bond amount is around $124 million.

Officials said Bond Question 1 must pass, in order for the other two bond questions to pass.

If all three bonds are approved, the average homeowner would pay an extra $118 a year in property taxes.

The district is holding an information session today at 10 a.m. at the Educational Support Center, and January 23 at 7 p.m. at Derby High School.

For more information on the bond election, visit the website.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow and like us on Facebook and Twitter.