Shawnee Mission voters approve $264 million bond for new schools, hiring teachers

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Residents within the Shawnee Mission School District boundaries have approved a new $264 million bond to pay for new schools, make building improvements and hire more teachers.

The district put the issue up for vote, and more than 34,000 people, or about 69.4%, approved the bond, according to unofficial final results from the Johnson County Election Office. Just over 15,000 people, or about 30.5%, voted against the issue.

The bond measure will increase property taxes for those within the district’s attendance boundaries. It will cost $8 more per year for every $100,000 in property owned. 

The bond will pay for five new elementary schools to replace Pawnee, John Diemer, Rushton, Tomahawk and Westwood View, along with remodeling the early childhood and career tech centers.  

It also moves maintenance salaries into the capital fund to free up funding for more than 70 new teachers, giving existing staff more planning and collaboration time, which was a key demand in last year’s contentious union negotiations.

The district will also make smaller upgrades and renovations to playgrounds, furniture, security and technology, among other things, at other district schools. You can read more about the bond here.

“I think the return that we would get would be beneficial to every homeowner that lives here,” David Smith, spokesman for SMSD, previously told FOX4.

The district said getting this bond before voters happened with a lot of parent and educator involvement from the start, as part of the Shawnee Mission’s strategic planning process.

But not everyone was happy with it, and an increase in property taxes also comes at a tough time as the pandemic rages on and families continue to face economic challenges.

But the district is hoping the small fee will continue to reap big benefits for students, staff and the community.  

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