How much in Bond funding is SMSD asking for?
Voters are being asked to approve SMSD issuing Bonds totaling $262.22 million dollars over the next few years. Projects would begin in 2021 and continue for 3-4 years.
What type of things will the Bond pay for?
The Bond will fund capital projects for the next several years. It is the first part of a new Strategic Plan for the district which looks ahead 15-20 years. Facility improvements include rebuilding of 5 elementary schools, major renovation of elementary playground areas, and learning space upgrades in all schools. It also includes a significant renovation of the Shawnee Mission Early Childhood Education Center and the Career and Tech Campus. Security and technology upgrades are scheduled for all schools.
How is it possible for this Bond to fund the hiring of new teachers?
Bond money has traditionally been limited to paying for capital projects (facility upgrades, new buildings, infrastructure projects, technology and security.) Facilities will continue to be covered by Bond money under this plan, but Kansas law now allows the district to shift some custodial/maintenance salaries into the capital fund. This frees up money in the operating fund, where the teacher salaries are paid. This money will be used to hire more secondary teachers, so middle and high school teachers can teach 5 periods instead of the current 6. This shift supports the student learning goals outlined in the District Mission Statement and Strategic Plan, and fulfills a commitment the Board of Education has made to our teachers.
When was the last Bond election?
The last Bond election was in January 2015. The amount was $223 million dollars. The funding was spent over a 5-year period, 2015 to 2020. The money was used to replace 5 elementary schools, renovate several school buildings and district facilities, install significant security upgrades in all schools, replace HVAC systems in several schools, launch technology platforms, construct a district aquatic center and a variety of maintenance and facility upgrades across the district. Voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Bond, with 80.5% voting “yes.”
Why are we doing a mail-in ballot?
Efficiency and flexibility. The current pandemic health crisis is a major factor is selecting the mail-in ballot method. Entities who hold elections must get the approval from their local election authority to conduct an election and coordinate with them on the selection of a date for the election. Mail in ballot elections have become very popular with voters and are often less expensive to conduct. They are convenient for our voters and can be scheduled with more flexibility. It also places a ballot in the hands of every registered voter, in the comfort of their home.
How do bonds work?
Bond issues cover items outside the regular budget. Schools are allowed to sell bonds to investors at interest. The capital raised from the sale of bonds is used for the recommended projects, and the investors are paid back with interest over time. The issuance of bonds is a common way for school districts and other institutions to secure long-term financing for major projects.
School funding seems so complicated. What is the difference between operating, capital and bond funding?
Why propose a bond initiative now?
The Shawnee Mission School District is committed to providing excellence in all aspects of its educational programming and delivery for students. District enrollment is stable and there are a number of new developments and redevelopment projects within communities in the district. attendance area that may impact school district enrollment. This bond proposal addresses some significant facility maintenance and improvement needs, as well as important safety and security improvements.
Why does SMSD ask for voter approval to sell bonds?
Shawnee Mission is required to receive authorization/approval from its patrons to issue a financing tool like Bonds, and the financial obligation they create. Because it represents a long-term obligation, taxpayers must approve the obligation to pay back the bonds over time. The decision to invest in the community’s schools is up to the voters.
How much is the value of the bonds the district can sell after voter approval?
The bond proposal asks for approval to issue $264.22 million in general obligation bonds over the next few years.Bonds will be sold in increments up to the $264.22 cap. Structured debt repayment will allow the school district to pay off the debt over 20 years.
What impact would the passage of the bond issue have on my taxes?
The $264.22 million bond issue will result in an increase in the school district’s mill levy. This means that a homeowner would see an increase in their tax rate because of this bond issue. The increase is estimated to be $8 per 100,000 of home value. A home valued at $250,000 would see an annual increase of approximately $20.
What is a mill and how does it translate to dollars?
One mill equals $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. In Shawnee Mission, one mill raises approximately $3 million.
What is Shawnee Mission’s current mill levy?
Shawnee Mission’s mill levy for the 2020-2021 school year is 52.115. If the Bond is approved, the Mill Levy will raise to 52.823.
How does the Shawnee Mission School District’s mill levy compare to those in other Johnson County school districts?
Shawnee Mission’s mill levy is currently the lowest of any of the six school districts in Johnson County. Even after the Bond were to pass, Shawnee Mission’s mill rate is projected to continue to be the lowest in the county.
Johnson County, KS School District Mill Levies:
Current If Bond Passes
Shawnee Mission 52.115 52.823
Blue Valley 62.802
Spring Hill 67.937
What is the “Local Option Budget” (LOB)?
The LOB is locally raised funding that can be used for operating expenses, such as salaries and benefits, supplies and utilities. 100% of the money raised by the LOB stays within SMSD to support education. The LOB is a way residents can help fund their local school district.
What does the Local Option Budget (L.O.B.) fund?
The Kansas School Finance Formula allows schools districts to have additional budget authority to support operational expenses (i.e. salaries and benefits, supplies, utilities) through the L.O.B. The L.O.B. may not exceed 33 percent of the district’s general fund budget.
The current LOB is 33%. But 33% of what?
Kansas law permits a public school district to collect local funding to an amount equal to no more than 33% of the general funds it receives from the state for its operational budget. For every dollar in funding Shawnee Mission receives for the General Operating Fund for all of its schools, the district can raise another 33 cents locally.
Why don’t we ask for a higher % for the LOB ?
Kansas law caps the LOB % at 33%.
Haven’t we voted on these issues before? When?
Yes, we voted to keep the LOB at 33% in 2015. Also, a Bond election was held on the same ballot in 2015. In 2007 we voted to raise the LOB % from 31% to 33%. Our residents approved a bond proposal in 2004 in the amount of $184 million.
Will every school be included on the Bond projects list?
Yes. Each of the district’s campuses will be impacted by some element of this proposal. Every one of our elementary, middle and high schools, as well as many other district facilities will benefit with upgrades.
Will bond money help make our schools more secure?
Yes, significant portion of the bond funding will be dedicated to enhancing the district wide security and safety upgrades which were first installed over 10 years ago and been updated constantly every year. The 2015 bond funding had a significant impact on school security improvements, bringing them to today’s required standards, including remodeling school entrances, video door entry observation and video surveillance throughout each school. Future funding will continue to pay for the installation of state-of-the-art enhancements.
When will all the projects funded by bonds be completed?
After the bond authorization is approved, a details project timeline will be developed and shared with all of our stakeholders. Some projects could begin this spring/summer. Others will be scheduled for a specific time over the next few years.
My children are grown and gone. Why should I support these issues?
Our award winning Shawnee Mission School District is one of the top reasons our community and neighborhoods have remained vibrant and a desirable location for families when they chose to relocate. Strong neighborhood schools help to assure stable and increasing property values. Many of our families stay in the home they raised their children in while attending K-12.The willingness for SMSD residents to continually reinvest in our school infrastructure is a key component to growth.
Are there any plans to close a school?
The bond initiative does not rely on the closure of any current schools. Some schools will be rebuilt on their current location. Some elementary school students and staff will be relocated to another building while their new school is built.
How many votes are needed for the issues to pass?
A simple majority of the voters is required for a “yes” vote to pass Bond approval.
What happens if the issues do not pass?
If the bond initiative does not receive a “yes” majority, the district will not be able to include the monies for adding teachers and for the bond projects in its multi-year strategic plan. Some of the projects that are desperately needed might be paid for as part of future years capital budget outlays, but many will have to wait until an annual school years budget can accommodate 1 or 2 projects.
Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission.
Paid for by the Committee for Excellence, Brent Fuson and Larry Winn, Co-Chairmen
COPYRIGHT © 2020 COMMITTEE FOR EXCELLENCE