NEWTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Newton school leaders want you to save the date to vote on September 3.
“The academic areas of the high school have not been upgraded since the building was built and occupied in 1973,” said Dr. Deborah Hamm.
Dr. Hamm is the superintendent of schools and is leading an effort that will ask voters two questions. The first question is a bond for roughly $61 million to upgrade Newton High School with a storm shelter and add a science wing.
“There’s a lot to this bond. It really is comprehensive. It’s been in the works since 2014 essentially,” said Dr. Hamm.
A second question would build a new elementary and reduce class sizes.
The school is engaging civic groups, taking to social media and sending old school mailings to get out the word.
Some parents say, after the last bond issue failed in Newton, they are left with a lot of questions.
“It’s hard to tell what’s needed,” said Gwen Neufeld, a parent. “Everybody agrees there’s a lot of improvement that need to be done and not a lot of money to throw around at it. And that’s kind of the problem.”
KSN asked Dr. Hamm the key to getting the public to vote yes.
“That’s a great question, and I wish I had a great answer for it,” said Dr. Hamm. “But I think the thing is, we have to continue to let the people know what the needs are.”
The school district continues to meet with civic groups and holds “Railer roundtables” with the community to talk about the upgrades to the district. School leaders and leaders of focus groups hope parents are paying attention.
Some parents say they are, but the jury is still out on the bond issue after the last bond attempt failed.
“I don’t think it’s too soon, but a lot of people are questioning how the priorities are being done,” said Neufeld.
The school district would add secure entrances to all the schools buildings with the new bond. The money would also do things like reduce some class sizes along with adding some new air conditioning units to replace old ones that are failing.
“We just have to keep involving the public,” said Dr. Hamm. “This is the future and our children are the future. “