Russell’s school bond to repair HVAC system fails at the polls: ‘We’re back to the drawing board.’


RUSSELL, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s back to the drawing boards for the Russell school district after their $17.5 million bond didn’t pass.

“Obviously, I don’t want to see my kids in school with blankets,” parent Renae Lumpkins said.

Over the winter, a failed boiler system forced the district to cancel class because classrooms were averaging around 50 degrees.

School officials said they were able to temporarily fix the problem with new boilers, but were hoping to pass a $17.5 million bond to fix the district’s HVAC system and additional upgrades for good.

“That bond was going to permanently fix the HVAC system, electrical system, add additional classrooms, upgrade fire alarms and clocks, add emergency and exit lighting and more,” USD 407 superintendent Shelly Swayne said.

But this week, the bond failed 60 to 40, leaving the city divided.

“I voted no for the bond,” former USD 407 principal Larry Bernard said. “We’ve fixed multiple issues in the past 20 plus years when I was there without a bond.”

Bernard said if the district was more specific in what they wanted and the bond was lower, he would have voted yes.

In contrast, Lumpkins said thebond’s result was disappointing.

“A lot of bonds are for more frivolous things, but our bond I would say was mainly for safety things,” she said. “I was just hoping people will come through for the kids.”

“We’ll continue to patch these things,” Swayne said. “The next year or two without a bond, we really can’t put that much money together in our normal budget.”

Swayne said she will be meeting with her board next Monday to discuss how the district can pursue the upgrades.

She said residents may start seeing surveys in the next couple of weeks.

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