The growing impetus on improved safety measures in schools grew larger for three schools in Lee’s Summit after April 2’s election brought to pass a $20 million no tax bond issue for the Blue Springs School District.
Delta Woods Middle and Chapel Lakes and Voy Spears Elementary schools, all part of the Blue Springs School District but within the city limits of Lee’s Summit, are just three of several schools in the district that will benefit from the measure that was approved by an 87 percent margin.
The measure, which will not increase annual taxes in Blue Springs but extends the payoff on current bonds, needed a majority of four-sevenths – or about 57 percent – to pass and it did with 5,741 yes votes compared to 860 who voted no.
“We are very pleased with the community’s support,” said Paul Kinder, the district’s superintendent. “In today’s age not too many would come out and support issues like that. Our community has been so good at that – that was our 25th bond issue in a row that we’ve passed and that’s all due to the community’s support of our schools.”
Kinder said the district will spend at least $14 million to improve safety and security at district facilities by adding safety measures such as secure entrances at several schools. Most of the improvements will take place at the elementary and middle school levels.
Other safety measures could include bullet proof glass and panic buttons, while some funds will update science laboratories and media centers. Other proposed improvements include renovated academic and instructional areas throughout the district.
“It’s really difficult that we have to talk about that, but in today’s society it’s become imperative especially after what happened in (Newtown) Connecticut back in December,” Kinder said of school safety issues. “It’s important for us to provide a safe and secure environment as we can for every student and our staff. This bond issue will allow us to do that.
“We’ll be able to have better control of our entry ways and people will have to pass through an officer to get into the building itself. They will have to go through many different people before they can actually enter our facilities during the school day.”
The passage of the bond issue was just the latest step in trying to ensure that schools are safe in Blue Springs. In January, the Blue Springs Board of Education approved the hiring of six additional public safety officers, who would bring the number of fully-commissioned officers in the district’s department of public safety to 17.
The district has had a department of public safety since 2005 and all six of the new officers will be on board by July.
BSSD is just one of three school districts in the Kansas City metropolitan area with its own public safety department along with Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission school districts in Kansas.
“Four of them started about four weeks ago and the other two will start in July,” Kinder said of the new hires. “We’ll have a full-time police force next year in our district of 17 officers. In today’s society it is very important that we can have our own police force. These are not security guards. These are licensed and trained police officers and we think it really helps us as we look forward to providing a secure environment for our students.”