Heather Baker, Payton Wurtz | staff writers
Wabaunsee voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the future of the district next month as USD 329 seeks to pass a $17.95 million bond.
If passed, the bond will provide necessary changes and repairs to keep the district running smoothly, while moving all students to a K-12 campus in Alma.
Superintendent Troy Pitsch said the result of the election will have a large effect on the district’s plan for the future. “We are headed down a very difficult path that is going to drastically impact the district in the next three years. We are going to look different as a district whether the bond passes or not,” he said.
USD 329 tried to pass a bond in 2020, but it failed 57 percent to 43 percent. The bond, worth $24.65 million, sought to fund renovations and maintenance of district school buildings, and would have created a K-6 building in Paxico and a 7-12 building in Alma.
For the current WHS building, which would change to a 7-12 building, the new bond would provide renovations to the original high school, a link between the old and new buildings, new bathrooms, a new roof for the old gym and renovations for the Ag shop and CTE building.
Improvements to Alma Elementary School, which would become PreK-6th grade, include a building addition and renovation, a new elementary gym, reroofing for the annexed building, and a secure main entrance into the building.
For the district overall, the bond will provide a new campus kitchen at the elementary school, district office relocation and the addition of a football locker room near the field.
As with any bond issue, an increase of community members’ taxes is a concern. The district included an estimated list of tax increases on its website and a flier that was sent to voters earlier this month.
“The point is instead of trying to get people to vote based on fear, the reality is the stakes are high, but it is truly up to them (the voters) how they see the district,” Pitsch said. “Do they see it as a district that is financially bankrupt and is struggling to pay its bills, having to reduce its size by force, or a district that capitalized on an opportunity to make a business decision for the benefit of the students.”
“This is a community bond, it’s not my bond. It’s up to them to decide what they want the future of the district to become. We are a high performing district, but can we keep that up if we are under financial distress? I don’t know if that’s something I want to find out.”
Information, maps, estimates and frequently asked questions can all be viewed at the USD 329 website.