WHAT WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE BOND PROJECT?
New High School Academic Wing: We plan to tear down the existing high school academic wing, which currently includes hexagon pods. This area offers very little natural light, small and irregular shaped classrooms, and classrooms that have no immediate point of entry (you must walk through other classrooms to get to some classrooms). Much of the current layout is a result of changing the original design from an open concept to one where walls have been constructed to provide more privacy for each classroom, resulting in a somewhat dysfunctional learning environment.
New Middle School Addition: As part of the high school academic wing addition, we plan to add a middle school wing at the current high school site. Both the high school academic wing and middle school wing will include two-story additions, allowing for distinct facilities for grades 5-8 and grades 9-12, separated by a new media center and library space.
New Fine Arts Center: We plan to build a new auditorium, a vocal music classroom, and a band classroom. The vocal music classroom and band classroom will also serve as a storm shelter. While we have an existing auditorium and music classrooms, we believe considerable improvements need to be made to better support our fine arts programs.
New Middle School Gymnasium: We plan to construct a new gymnasium that will go east of the current Main Gym, in the space where the swimming pool used to sit. Since we plan to move grades 5-8 from the existing middle school, we want to have a gymnasium on site that will allow for practices and games without the current need to adjust schedules based on the number of teams needing to utilize the gyms at once. Our goal is to avoid early and late practices as much as possible with this new gym addition.
Current Fine Arts Pod Renovation: We plan to renovate the existing fine arts pod (auditorium, music rooms, art room) to create a weight room inside the school building. Our current weight room is located at our football stadium and does not have the necessary square footage to house all students for physical education classes and summer weights programs.
Current Shop & Pit Stop Renovation: We plan to expand our wood shop space, providing more space for this program and other possible hands-on opportunities we may wish to offer in the future. Additionally, we plan to create a larger Pit Stop space that will provide improved access for students and patrons off the commons area.
Other Improvements: We plan to add office spaces for the middle school addition, as we will maintain the 5-8 format in the new building. This will allow us to have two separate student drop-off/pick-up locations and points of entry, one for the students in grades 5-8 and one for students in grades 9-12. We also plan to expand our existing commons space at the high school building, which will allow us to have two daily eating spaces, one for grades 5-8 and one for grades 9-12.
WHAT ARE THE NEEDS AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HOW MUCH WOULD THE IMPROVEMENTS COST TO MAKE THIS A VIABLE BUILDING IN THE NEAR AND DISTANT FUTURE?
In the spring of 2021, our school district conducted a needs assessment of each school building. This included teams of parents, students, and staff members who shared desired improvements at each location. The process also involved analysis of our infrastructure, including HVAC, roofs, plumbing, electrical, and emergency notification systems. With a large portion of the middle school being one of the older facilities across campus, we identified considerable needs for that building, especially with infrastructure. The total cost for desired improvements was approximately $5,800,000 with well over half of this amount consisting of HVAC and roof upgrades. Other items that were identified in the needs assessment included a new and more accessible middle school gym entrance from the south and upgraded finishings that would update the overall look and feel of the building. Our Facilities Steering Committee determined that maximizing investment in the current high school building and moving 5-8 to that location was of greater long-term value, considering the amount of needs identified and the cost associated with the current middle school building.
WHAT IS THE TOTAL PROJECTED COST OF THE USD 460 BOND PROJECT AND HOW WILL THIS COST IMPACT PROPERTY TAXES FOR RESIDENTIAL, AGRICULTURAL, AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICT?
The total projected cost for the bond project is $33,845,000 to be paid for over 30 years. We are looking at 30 years due to low interest rates and the option to pay the bond off early. This would result in an increase of 10.62 mills on the USD 460 Bond and Interest mill levy. Below you will find the estimated tax increase associated with this bond project and an additional 10.62 mills.
$200,000 Residential Property Tax Impact - Increase over Current
Agriculture Property Tax Impact - Increase over Current
160 Acres Dryland
160 Acres Irrigated
160 Acres Grass Pasture
Commercial Property Tax Impact - Increase over Current
$50,000 Commercial Property
$100,000 Commercial Property
HOW DOES HESSTON COMPARE WITH OTHER HARVEY COUNTY COMMUNITIES IN TERMS OF OVERALL PROPERTY TAX RATES?
WHAT WILL A MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL LOOK LIKE? WILL WE KEEP RS (REACH FOR SUCCESS) AND THE "BUDDY SYSTEM" LIKE WE CURRENTLY HAVE AT HMS? WHAT ABOUT DROP OFF AND PICK UP LOCATIONS?
We will continue to operate a 5-8 middle school and a 9-12 high school even though everyone will be within the same building. There will be a separate middle school office area and a high school office area, along with a high school principal and counselor and a middle school principal and counselor. Our plan going into the first year of the middle and high school format will be to keep our schedules similar to what they are now and work to expand programming and learning opportunities for students over time. We will maintain our RS program at HMS and the buddy system where we connect 5th graders and 8th graders prior to 5th graders entering HMS. We will have a separate point of entry for middle school students, which will include a separate drop-off and pick-up point for middle school students.
HOW WILL YOU KEEP 5-8TH GRADERS AND 9-12TH GRADERS SEPARATED DURING THE SCHOOL DAY?
There will be natural separation within the school building for our middle and high students throughout the school day. Other than physical education classes and music classes, students will spend the majority of their time in two separate academic wings separated by a media center and library space. There will be separate restroom facilities in each wing, as well. We are planning to expand our commons area in order to house a separate eating space for middle and high school students. Along with spaces allowing for separation, we will also create a schedule that will make it unlikely for middle and high school students to be out of classrooms at the same times. Additionally, we will maintain adequate supervision during passing periods. Just as we currently do at our middle and high school, we want to take advantage of having students of different ages learn and work together, and we will create structures that ensure we maximize learning opportunities for all, while maintaining a distinct middle school and high school building.
USD 460 HAS A LONG HISTORY OF ACHIEVEMENT AND SUCCESS. WHY ARE WE MAKING SUCH A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE TO OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM BY PROPOSING THAT WE MOVE 5-8TH GRADERS TO THE CURRENT HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING?
Hesston Public Schools are known for academic and activity success throughout the area and state. Our system has served us well for many years. As our staff and community put this bond project proposal together, it was informed by our belief that this project will allow us to improve an already high achieving school system. We believe it will enhance all aspects of our District Improvement Framework, especially within the Beliefs and Practices of our staff in grades 5-12. It will help us better align our curriculum and instructional practices, provide richer opportunities for our 5-12 staff to collaborate with one another, and build stronger and longer-lasting relationships with our students. We also believe that, over time, we will be able to expand programming for students, especially those students in grades 5-8, where programming outside core academic areas and fine arts is currently limited. Our current system of three separate buildings limits our ability to share staff in a way that maximizes our efficiency and time with students.
WHILE THE BOND PROJECT TARGETS MANY IMPROVEMENTS AT THE CURRENT HIGH SCHOOL, HOW WILL OTHER FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS BE ADDRESSED, ESPECIALLY AT THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL?
As part of the bond planning process, we are also developing a 10 Year Capital Outlay Plan that will allow us to continue improving facilities not immediately addressed by the bond project. Some of these projects include an improved entryway at HES, a new entry from the 1-2 commons at HES, flooring replacement at HES, and some drainage correction at HES. Roof replacements and HVAC upgrades will also be a part of our 10 Year Capital Outlay Plan. We will continue to provide more information on this plan, and you will find our Capital Outlay Overview by clicking here, and you will notice our Board of Education has done a great job of building this fund over the past several years in order to address ongoing and needed improvements across the school district.
IS ADDITIONAL PARKING BEING CONSIDERED AS PART OF THIS BOND PROJECT?
We are discussing the possible need for additional parking as part of the bond discussion, but new parking lots are not currently included in the scope of the bond project itself. Instead, should we deem it necessary to add parking, we would make this part of our 10 Year Capital Outlay Plan.
IF WE DO NOT RUN AND PASS THIS BOND ISSUE, WHAT WILL HAPPEN?
Without this bond project, the biggest immediate concern would be with our middle school and the infrastructure needs we have in that building, along with other infrastructure needs at our high school. These issues will take a considerable investment over the next several years and will likely require more funds than is available in our capital outlay budget, considering other ongoing costs that we address through capital outlay. Therefore, we will very likely need to design another bond project proposal for the community's consideration. This proposal would be based on immediate needs, would likely be smaller scale, and would primarily address infrastructure that would likely include few visible improvements. It would also be more limited in projects that enhance student learning opportunities and new programs. Additionally, we would have very limited ability to fundamental address the dysfunctional nature of the high school academic wing, and we would be unable to make significant improvements to our existing fine arts pod at HHS.
WILL WE CUT STAFF WHEN WE MOVE TO A MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL CONFIGURATION?
As we transition to the middle/high school format, we do not plan to make any immediate or significant changes to staffing levels or a lot of the current structures we have in place at the middle school and high school. We see great value in continuing our 5-8 system, and we want to operate two schools under one roof. This means maintaining a middle school principal, counselor, teaching staff, and support staff. Over time, we do believe our staffing and schedules will evolve, and we will have opportunities to increase our efficiencies and/or add programming for our students, especially those in grades 5-8. Our first year for middle school students in the new building will be 2024-25, so there is a good amount of time to plan for this transition, but our planning right now involves few changes for the first year in the new configuration.