Blue Springs bond issue

By Mike Genet
The Examiner

Three years after voters approved a bond issue for district buildings, the Blue Springs School District is asking voters for a second bond issue to move the rest of its freshmen to a high school campus. Also, every elementary school in the district would have space hardened against strong tornadoes. 

An artist's rendering of the proposed freshman wing at Blue Springs High School.

The district will ask voters Aug. 3 to approve a $107 million bond issue for, among other projects, a freshman wing on the northwest corner of Blue Springs High School. The bond issue would not raise taxes. 

When that project would be finished in about two years, the district would transform the current Freshman Center into a career and innovation Center. 

A second question for voters will be for a levy transfer – 6 cents from debt service to operations. The district’s total property tax levy would remain unchanged at $5.7286 per $100 of assessed valuation. With the additional revenue for operations, the district plans to hire six mental-health professionals for the middle schools and high schools and have a registered nurse for each school. 

The bond issue requires a two-thirds majority from voters (about 67 percent) to pass. The levy transfer needs a simple majority. 

With a $99 million bond issue approved in 2018, the district added a freshman wing at Blue Springs South High School, moving about half the students out of the Freshman Center. It also renovated and built additional fine arts space at Blue Springs High School, built a new media center at that campus and added space at Liggett Trail Education Center, among other projects. 

That bond issue, Superintendent Bob Jerome said, was done “with the long-range vision of moving all the freshman back to the high school buildings.” 

The new space at Blue Springs High School would replace the current Civic Center, the original auditorium built in the 1960s.  

“It would really mirror what we did at Blue Springs South,” Jerome said. “It would be a two-story addition.” 

In 2023, the district would convert the Freshman Center into a career educational building. The Board of Education has voted to name it after recently retired educator and administrator Annette Seago. 

“We currently have some (career-oriented) programming in that building, but true renovation will not happen until the freshmen are moved,” Jerome said. 

The $107 million bond issue also addresses enrollment growth and maintenance. 

Elementary schools 

James Lewis Elementary would get six classrooms and additional office space, William Bryant gets six new classrooms and Chapel Lakes Elementary gets four new classrooms built to withstand an EF5 tornado.  

Franklin Smith Elementary gets a multipurpose room with EF5 capability, giving each elementary building in the district such space. Franklin Smith, Lucy Franklin, Voy Spears Jr., William Bryant, and William Yates elementary schools will all receive kitchen upgrades. 

“Different corridors of our district are seeing growth and projected growth,” Jerome said, adding that the district does not plan to change and elementary boundary liness. 

Other slated bond projects:  

• Roof and HVAC maintenance at for many district buildings. 

• Upgrades to the indoor pool at Centennial Pool-Plex, which Jerome acknowledged could ultimately mean a new indoor pool. The outdoor pool will go away. 

• An additional tennis court at Baumgardner Park 

• All-weather surfaces for the middle school tracks. 

• Office expansion and driveway updates for John Nowlin Elementary. 

• Additional parking and restrooms at James Walker Elementary. 

The levy transfer would help the district’s goal of increasing mental health support for students. 

“We know we had mental health concerns among our students prior to the pandemic, and moving forward as we move out of the pandemic – unfortunately we’re still contending with that – we know we’ll have issues among the students,” Jerome said. 

Having mental health professionals at each middle school and high school would allow the district to use social workers in different ways around the district, Jerome said. Similarly, eventually having a registered nurse in each school building allows better use of the health aides. All current staff in both areas would remain, the superintendent said.  

“We have number of health aides across the district that do incredible work,” Jerome said. “Our medical needs have, quite frankly, increased a lot over the years.”