Every time the Blue Springs School District has brought a bond issue before the voters, there is a theme. This year, the focus is on safety and security for the bond vote coming up Tuesday.

Every time the Blue Springs School District has brought a bond issue before the voters, there is a theme. This year, the focus is on safety and security for the bond vote coming up Tuesday.

Originally planned for February 2014, the Blue Springs Board of Education, with the help of the district’s Citizen Advisory Committee, decided to fast-track the issue almost a year following the events in Newtown, Conn. In December, Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 26 students and teachers before turning the gun on himself.

“We felt like it was our responsibility to bring this to the citizens now to see what they thought sooner rather than later,” Superintendent Paul Kinder said. “We just want to make sure our schools are secure as they possibly can be.”
At the heart of the $20 million bond issue is improving safety and security throughout the district. About $14 million would go toward that area, while the remaining $6 million would go toward other renovation and construction projects. If approved, the issue would not raise taxes.

One of the largest projects that would be funded is new entrances at Daniel Young, Franklin Smith, James Lewis, Sunny Pointe, Voy Spears, William Bryant and William Yates elementary schools, all four middle schools and the Blue Springs Freshman Center. The new entrances would enhance security by forcing visitors through the front office before gaining access to the rest of the building.

While this will be relatively easy at the elementary schools, the changes will be significant at the middle schools and the Freshman Center. The middle schools would each get a 5,000-square-foot addition at the front of the building that would accommodate the new entrance. The old offices, which are located in the center of the building, would be converted to classroom space. This equates to between four and five classrooms, depending on the building. The Freshman Center would get a 3,000-square-foot addition at the front of the building.

Other safety enhancements include about $1 million in bullet proof class and an expansion of the district’s panic button system. Kinder said, however, that the locations these features would not be released to the general public. Telephones would also be installed in every classroom. But instead of using the telephone lines, the phone system would run through fiber optic Internet cables.

“What we learned from situations like Sandy Hook and Columbine is that the cell phone system overloaded pretty quickly,” Kinder said. “These will be hardwired-telephones that will give teachers an actual phone line. Every teacher in the building could be on the phone at once, and the system would not be overloaded.”

Aside from the safety and security enhancements, the bond issue would fund several other projects. These include upgrading the media center at the Freshman Center as well as renovating the physical science classrooms to allow for biology.

At Sunny Pointe, James Lewis and James Walker, new multipurpose rooms would be constructed. Kinder said the district has applied for FEMA grants to turn the multipurpose rooms at James Lewis and James Walker into storm shelters. These rooms would not only be accessed by the school, but in the event of a storm, people visiting the nearby parks could also use the shelter.

“This is the first year since the Joplin tornado that Joplin has not applied for FEMA grants,” he said. “We are one of five projects being considered, and it would give added security to those buildings.”

The last projects would be replacing the wood chip playground surfaces at all of the elementary schools with artificial turf, and if funds remain, a new warehouse would be constructed for the maintenance department. Currently, the department shares space with food services.