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As Schools Near Capacity, Maize District Seeks State Approval For Bond Election

Maize USD 266

The Maize School District is seeking state approval for a $108.2 million bond election that would take place in August.

The district’s board of education approved a facilities plan Monday night. If the state signs off in July, the district will put two bond proposals before voters.

The first question is for the construction of two intermediate schools that would house fifth and sixth grades; districtwide safety and security improvements; and upgrades to Maize High and Maize South High schools.

The projects would cost about $79 million.

Superintendent Chad Higgins says the district is growing so fast, elementary and middle schools are running out of room. He says the new schools would meet the district’s immediate needs, and allow for expansion in the future.

“Not being able to pass that first question, not being able to construct two school facilities and have them read in two years, it would create challenges in our district that would be hard to describe,” Higgins says.

The district’s five elementary schools are currently at 91 percent capacity, and its two middle schools are at 90 percent capacity.

The second question involves building a new complex to house a 950-seat auditorium and an indoor swimming pool. It would also upgrade outdoor playgrounds and add new indoor STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math) labs at elementary schools.

The projects would cost about $29 million.

Higgins says combining the auditorium and pool in one building meets needs and saves money.

“If we place those two facilities in the same facility, then we can save some infrastructure costs as far as parking, lighting, HVAC, plumbing, those kinds of things, and put them in one location,” he says.

Voters rejected a $13 million proposal for an Olympic-sized natatorium four years ago. This time, the district is proposing a smaller pool with eight 25-yard lanes, 300 seats and a dive well. Higgins says the district’s first pool would be similar to what’s offered at other area high schools.

Currently the district’s high school swim teams and special education students use a pool at one of the Greater Wichita YMCA branches.

“It’s not as convenient as it sounds," Higgins says. "Seating isn’t good for spectators, and the pool doesn’t have a diving facility so our kids can’t compete really at the highest level."

The district is also looking to incorporate swimming into curriculum for elementary students.

Higgins says the bond proposals do not affect the district’s mill levy rate, so taxpayers won’t see an increase if the questions are approved.

The district’s last bond election in 2015 provided more than $70 million in building renovations and athletic facility upgrades. Voters also passed bond issues in 2007, 2000, 1993 and 1986.

A special election would be held Aug. 27.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.