Voters in USD 309 turn down bond issue

NICKERSON, Kan.(KWCH) Tuesday night, the answer from voters in the Nickerson/South Hutchinson school district was 'no' as the district's approximate $30 million bond issue only received 20 percent support.

Tuesday's election was the culmination of two years of planning.

"Each school had quite a list of really important things that they were in need of," USD 309 Superintendent Dr. Jeanne Stroh says.

She says plans for the bond covered all four schools in the district, addressing security concerns, adding classroom space, and fixing aging infrastructure.

With the issue of taxes, Stroh says, "It's always a challenge to get a bond issue passed."

The bond faced some stiff opposition within the community. A Facebook group calling itself "SOS" or "Support of a Smaller Bond" says the proposal on Tuesday's ballot was too much for them to support.
But Stroh says looking at a smaller proposal could end up harming the district's schools in the long run.

"Districts that don’t get bonds passed then look at something smaller and my worry would be that something smaller would be a band-aide and four or five, six or ten years from now than a much bigger bond would be on the table because things were not taken care of in 2019 like they should have been. That’s part of the discussion our board and architects will have. We want to do the right thing. Interest rates are at an all-time low, so we want to be good stewards of our taxpayer’s dollars," she says.

Stroh says the USD 309 school board and architects will regroup to decide if they want to go out for another bond or table the idea.

"Time is probably of the essences, but we don’t want to move so quickly that we don’t have time to work with our patrons and our community and find out what they’re willing to do," Stroh says.

One opponent of the bond says he supported an option that was nearly $10 million below the amount for the bond up for the vote Tuesday night.
Norm Roth told Eyewitness News that he was part of the steering committee that started working on the development of the bond two years ago and says the school district has needs to be addressed.