VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (KSNW) — Multiple districts across Kansas will be voting for bonds on Tuesday.


In Valley Center, they increased by 500 students over the last decade and need more space.

“With the additions that are coming in Valley Center within the next five, 10 years, a lot of housing additions, things like that, making sure we have the capacity to support all of that in the years to come,” Valley Center superintendent Greg Lehr said.

The Valley Center bond comes with a price tag of $74 million. It would add a new elementary school and two dozen classrooms to the high school.

“Being proactive in this instance right now, while we don’t have the growth 4,600, we will have the ability to grow into that, and if we grow 500 students over the next 10 years like we have the past 10 years, that puts us at about 3,830 – 900 students. So we’ll have that, the facility to accommodate that,” Lehr said.

He says capacity is at 3,400, and they have 3,200 students now. The bond would give a capacity of 4,600. A new elementary school would allow them to redistribute grade levels and space things out.

“We want to make sure our facilities are safe for our students,” Lehr said. “We want to make sure we have enough space for our students to grow. And when it comes to education, the last thing you want are class sizes that are in the high 20s and low 30s. We want to keep those class sizes small so that our kids get the best education possible.”


In Leon, the Bluestem school district has also seen growth. The bond would add classrooms to the elementary school and high school as well as expand programs.

“A lot of it is just our location and with the population around us,” Bluestem superintendent Joel Lovesee said. “Depending on cost of living in Wichita to Andover, people want to move farther out. A lot of the programs we offer, I would say one of the best ag programs in the country when it comes to elementary school.”

Over the last three years, the district has added about 30 students, and enrollment increased again this year. They cannot accept any out-of-district students, and there is a waitlist at the preschool because of a lack of space.

To make the schools safer, each building would get a storm shelter and bullet-resistant glass.

“Security is our number one priority on this bond especially with everything going on in the world today,” Lovesee said. “We’re responsible for people’s children, that’s the most important part of their lives. And so they’re dropping them off at eight in the morning, expecting them to come home safely by four. And so we want to take every, every measure we can to protect them. I don’t feel confident enough that we can protect their children how we should now.”


In Hugoton, they are focusing on four main points: safety, updating learning spaces, accessibility and long-term success of a rural community.

“This bond issue is really trying to encourage an investment in the long-term viability of our community,” Hugoton superintendent Adrian Howie said. “When you look at western Kansas, the general population has shifted and continues to shift eastward. Over the last decade, the population of Hugoton has dropped 4%. Other communities around us have lost anywhere between 10% and 20%. That’s really what this bond issue is trying to help address is how can we invest in our community so that we’re still a vibrant community for the next 30, 40, 50 years?”

The superintendent says the high school and elementary schools need more secure entrances because once you get through the front doors, you have access to the entire building rather than checking in at the office.

“We really feel it’s important to create those safe checkpoints as you enter the building. And so we have a better idea and control of who comes in and comes out at the times that they need to.”

And the interlocked doors are all glass. They want to also add access control components to the classroom doors because now teachers have to walk outside into the hallway to lock the door from the outside.

“We don’t like to talk about intruders, but unfortunately, in school systems, we have to deal with that today. And so how can we create stronger entry points so that it buys staff more time to really do whatever we need to do, whether that’s to exit the building or to lock down the building.

They also want to build a student activities center that will connect the industrial arts building so students don’t have to walk between buildings.


In Oberlin, the bond would consolidate K-12 in one building, refurbish space there and add space. Their last bond was in 1965.

They have keyless entries on the outside but not the inside. They want to be able to lock down the school from the office. At the high school, the office isn’t close to the doors.

“Usually, out here in western Kansas, we haven’t had a lot of issues. All you have to do is have one incident happen, which can happen anywhere. And so we want to make sure our kids are safe no matter what,” superintendent Joel Applegate said.

Also, all the buildings aren’t connected, so students are walking outside.

“The kindergarten building is not attached, so we have little kids walking across to get to the main school, and then at the high school, we have them walking across going to the shop so certain doors can’t be locked at a certain time,” Applegate said.

Applegate says the $29 million bond isn’t just for the teachers and students but for the entire community. He says the schools are the cornerstone of a small community and a large contributor to economic development.