The sound and lighting systems in the Van Horn High School auditorium are old, out-of-date and not usable in their current condition.

The sound and lighting systems in the Van Horn High School auditorium are old, out-of-date and not usable in their current condition.


The heating system, which is little more than a boiler in the basement, is original to the school, which was built in 1955.


The needs at Truman High School are different, but in no way less important. The band room is so small that there is no way for the 200-member marching band to practice at the same time. Rehearsal must take place in shifts. And the second gymnasium has no restrooms, an inadequate heating and cooling system and is not big enough for most of the high school’s activities.


“Hundreds upon hundreds of our students utilize the small gym and the band room so this will definitely have a big impact on our students,” said Truman principal Kristel Barr. “The community also utilizes the small gym for a variety of events, so it is of great benefit to them as well.”


Voters in the Independence School District will vote on an $85 million bond issue Nov. 3 that would, among other things, fund extensive renovations and additions at not only Van Horn and Truman high schools, but also William Chrisman. A portion of the $85 million would be interest free because of zero-percent bonds available through the federal stimulus package. However, homeowners in Independence would still likely see a 15-cent tax increase per $100 of assessed value. For a $100,000 home, this would mean an additional $28.56 annually and for those with a $200,000 home, it would be an additional $57.12 each year.


“These modifications and renovations would be needed whether a new high school is built down the road or not,” said Superintendent Jim Hinson. “And in Van Horn’s case, those students need to see improvements in the facility just like students at any other high school in Independence. They need to have the same amenities available.”


If the bond issue is passed successfully, William Chrisman would see a new main entry and front office remodel as well as new restrooms in the gymnasium, renovated science rooms and an enclosed courtyard that would create a new commons area.


In addition to the new band room and gymnasium at Truman, there would be renovations made to the science rooms.


Van Horn would see some of the biggest changes with a new main entry and front office remodel, new lighting and sound system in the auditorium, a new air-conditioning and heating system and new artificial turf on the football and soccer field.


All three high schools would see renovated lockers and a new track.


“The current heating/air-conditioning system at Van Horn is antiquated and in dire need of attention. The auditorium needs repair, and the football field and track are essentially unusable in the present condition,” said Van Horn principal Greg Netzer. “If the bond passes, these improvements will have a tremendous impact (on the students and staff). Not only will the renovations directly affect the health and wellness of our students, but they will provide additional opportunities for student success.”


Barr said she feels that all of the renovations to each of the high schools, even the locker renovations, would be a “tremendous asset” to not only current high school students, but also to those coming in the future.


“Each year, several lockers ‘die’ – their locks cease to work. As a result, we have fewer and fewer lockers to issue to students. The new fronts will ensure that all of our lockers are functional for students,” she said. “But I think I am most excited to see the new addition (band and gym building). That is very exciting. It will allow us to provide much better services to our students and our community.”


Middle Schools


It is not only the three high schools that will see some major changes.


On the middle school campus, which is home to Bridger, Pioneer Ridge and Bingham middle schools, a new stadium would be built with an all-purpose field and artificial turf. Parking lot and sidewalk reapirs would also be done at the three facilities as well as Nowlin Middle School in western Independence.


Nowlin Middle School, among other things, would see renovations to classrooms and restrooms, locker upgrades, a remodeled front office and nurse’s room and upgrades to the heating and air-conditioning system.


For more information on the Independence School District bond issue, visit the district’s Web site at www.indep.k12.mo.us and choose the “2009 bond issue” tab.