Maize Schools bond issue up for vote now

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MAIZE, Kan. (KAKE) -

Voters in the Maize school district can now vote on a bond issue to build two new intermediate schools.  We first told you  last spring about the district's unexpected enrollment growth - almost twice what demographers had predicted.

Growing Pains Hit Maize Schools

Now it's time for you to decide what happens next.

"We came out early to try to avoid the lines," said Emery Bertrand after voting on the USD 266 bond proposal.

"I knew how I wanted to vote so I wanted to make sure I got here," added voter Hazel Bertrand.

Even as Maize Middle Schoolers were fighting their way down the crowded hallways to class, dozens of grown-ups were heading to Maize City Hall Wednesday to vote on the future of their school.

"It's not a want, this is a need for our district," said Leslie Staver who helped come up with the Maize district's proposed bond.

If approved, it will primarily build two new intermediate schools for fifth and sixth graders.

"I know our elementary schools are really packed and the class sizes there are really high," said Staver.

"I'm only aware of one other school in the state that's growing faster," said Chad Higgins, Maize Superintendent.

He described how they've scrambled for classroom space this year, walling off parts of the library and taking over teacher resource rooms.  Plus, they  had to add dozens of lockers the weekend before classes started this month, to make sure they had enough for all the incoming 6th graders at Maize Middle School.

In addition to the two new buildings, the bond would also upgrade security in the schools.

"We'll be able to improve door monitoring through a fob system.  Right now our current fob system is very limited.  It runs on an old DOS program," explained Higgins. Adding with a laugh, "Which some people don't even know what that is."

That's all in part one of the bond for a total of $79.5 million.  In part two of the bond request, at $28.7 million, the district is asking for a elementary classroom and playground improvements, a new auditorium, and a swimming pool.  This is the district's second attempt to get voter approval for a swimming pool.

"The pool is so multi-functional now,"  Higgins said, explaining they've downscaled the plan and altered it for use by the entire district.  "It's not just swim teams.  It's elementary school curriculum, it's special needs opportunities."

"I'm all for building the new facilities that they need for the students, but it's a hard pill to swallow to pay for a pool," said Hazel Bertrand after voting.

But other voters, like Tyler Harrison, disagree. 

"But the benefits of the students, why not invest back into children's lives?" he asked.  

As voters headed to the polls Wednesday, some had a question about how the two parts of the bond work.  The answer is, they're independent of each other.  Voters should vote on both questions. 

The district says with enough Yes votes it can thin the crowds at school and make everyone safer, all without raising taxes.  It says between savings on earlier bond issues and falling interest rates, this is a good time to move forward on a bond issue.

Satellite voting runs Wednesday and Thursday from 12 pm to 7 pm, and Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm at Maize City Hall.  Or, you can vote at the Sedgwick County Elections office from 8 am to 5 pm through Friday, August 23rd, and 8 am to 12 pm on Monday, August 26th.  You can vote at your regular polling site next Tuesday, August 27th.

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