May 7 Voter Guide: everything you need to know about the KCKPS $420M bond vote 

The KCKPS Bond Election, which seeks to build new schools and improve current ones, has raised worries among Wyandotte County residents over a possible rise in property taxes. The post May 7 Voter Guide: everything you need to know about the KCKPS $420M bond vote  appeared first on Kansas City Defender.

May 7 Voter Guide: everything you need to know about the KCKPS $420M bond vote 
Superintendent Dr. Anna Stubblefield shares information about the upcoming KCKPS Bond Election. (@kckschools Twitter account)

Wyandotte County residents will vote on May 7 on whether or not to approve a $420 million bond issue for Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. 

In January, KCKPS Board of Education passed the $420 million bond proposal for residents to have the vote on the May 7 ballot. 

How will the money be spent?

If approved, this $420 million bond will be used for renovating and improving facilities, constructing new ones, adding to existing buildings, and addressing deferred maintenance. However, approving it would also result in an increase in property taxes. 

The Kansas City Kansas Public School District (KCKPS) 500 has proposed a bond resolution which will be up for vote on May 7th in the USD 500 special question election. The bond proposal would allocate 420 million dollars to KCKPS support facility improvements. This breaks down to roughly 20,000 per student in the school district. The last bond approved in 2016 was also used for facility improvements. All the facility updates proposed in that bond have been completed and the latest bond is intended to be a phase two of the renovations completed since 2016. 

The bond would be paid for with a property tax increase of approximately $122 a year for homeowners with homes valued around 125,000 or about $10 a month, which breaks down to 33 cents per day. For a commercial property owner with a property valued at 150,000 the increase would be an estimated $318 per year. 

Here’s a full detailed breakdown of how the money is being allocated. 

The bond measure brings some residents concerns 

During the district’s community information session on Thursday April 25th many residents were vocal about their concerns regarding the bond resolution. 

Residents are worried about the burden of even a minor property tax increase and how it would exacerbate already rising tax values. Inflation in the housing market has led to a higher appraisal of home values which has already significantly increased homeowners’ tax burdens. 

The Wyandotte County Commonwealth Advocacy Coalition, a group that opposes the bond, is urging residents to vote against it due to their concerns about the potential increase in property taxes. After witnessing other increases in the cost of living, the group formed back in November. 

According to KSHB 41, their main concern revolves around taxpayers who are already facing financial difficulties, as they may be burdened with an additional tax for improvements. 

Additionally some residents express concerns about security improvements with these new facilities as well as how the money will be managed and spent. Thursday’s meeting at JC Harmon High School, one of the schools slated to receive a gym addition, was the third community meeting about the district’s bond resolution. Attendees were given a ticket to receive free dinner from a taco truck contracted to cater the event.

Photos of infrastructure issues at Argentine Middle School–one of the schools that KCKPS plans to replace if the bond election succeeds. (Maria Benevento, The Kansas City Beacon) 

What you need to know for the May 7 ballot question?

The question on the ballot is worded to ask should Unified School District No. 500, Wyandotte County, Kansas (Kansas City), approve issuing general obligation bonds up to $420,000,000 for various school district purposes as outlined in the proposal?

The specific wording for the 2024 USD 500 Special Election can be found on Wyandotte County’s voter site.

What happens if the vote doesn’t get passed? 

According to The Kansas City Beacon, Superintendent Anna Stubblefield said that if the bond doesn’t pass, KCKPS would have to postpone plans and focus on small urgent projects. 

She also told The Beacon that the bond is approximately equal to the district’s annual budget, meaning there is no viable backup plan for the district to secure that amount of money. The community and board could come together again to present a new proposal and return with that offer if that’s what they desire if not passed, but postponing it could potentially raise the project expenses.

According to Stubblefield these facility upgrades are important because there is a correlation between facility upgrades and academic outcomes. Students in newer facilities tend to perform better than those who are not due to factors such as a more successful learning environment and improved air quality. The project would also create an additional 553 jobs in construction. 164.1 Million in worker’s salaries. 

What else you need to know before you vote

On May 7, polls will be open for Wyandotte County residents from 7AM to 7PM. 

To find your polling location, you can look at Wyandotte County’s polling location list or look up your polling location online

Residents can also submit their thoughts to the school district’s 2024 bond thought exchange survey.

Curious about how we're covering election matters? 
Visit our 2024 Black Voter's Guide to learn more.

The post May 7 Voter Guide: everything you need to know about the KCKPS $420M bond vote  appeared first on Kansas City Defender.