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SPOTLIGHT

BRIAN CORN â ¢ Tribune News Service Smoke billows from a building at Mid-Continent Airport on Thursday morning in Wichita shortly after a Beechcraft King Air B200 crashed into the building.

Ellis school bond up for 2nd vote

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By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

ELLIS -- Ellis USD 388 patrons will be deciding on a $9 million bond issue when they go to the polls Tuesday.

Improvements are needed because of aging facilities and space issues, Superintendent Bob Young said.

If voters approve, the general plan is to build classrooms and office space to move the junior high to Ellis High School.

Additional space is needed at Washington Grade School because of special-education classes, the Title I Reading program and pre-K classes. Junior high students are being transported to the high school for as many as five hours a day.

The money also would be used to pay off the $1.3 million in HVAC improvements and replace the HVAC at Washington Grade School. Building and equipping a secondary gym, football field, track, pressbox, bleachers, concessions and restrooms also are on the list.

Synthetic turf would be used on the football field because of ongoing water issues.

The school district's wells provide "just enough to keep it alive." Young said of the fields.

"The last bond that passed was in 1974," said Gail Brack, co-chair of the bond committee. "That bond passed to build what people call now the new high school."

The gym they hope to replace is in what many call the old high school.

"Voters in 1974, they really were voting to get rid of a school full of memories -- hallways, cafeterias and classrooms. This is like a structure," Brack said of the building. "I'm sure there's memories there for people, but the remaining structure is just a gym, not a high school."

Voters defeated a $10 million bond proposal last year.

Volunteers "have really picked up the ball, going out into the community" for this proposal, Young said. "They've really generated a lot of positive vibes."

Brack is cautiously optimistic about the bond passing, but expects the vote to be a close one.

If the bond passes, property tax on a $150,000 home would increase by approximately $24.37 a month.

Brack acknowledges people are "taxed a lot."

Much of the taxes go to the state and federal governments.

"At least with a bond, this bond has a purpose, and this $9 million can only be used for that purpose," Brack said. "I look at it as a reinvestment in our community and our school. In two years when it's done, we're going to see classrooms, we're going see a gym, we're going to see a football stadium. And with paying off the existing HVAC loan, that money becomes available for other district needs. We're going to see something for our money and our taxes."

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