Bond issue spurs opposing views

Courtney Brown, Panther's Tale Copy Editor

On Feb. 20, the community will vote on whether to pass a $123-million bond issue that would renovate Derby public schools.

Based off a list with renovations not included in the 2012 bond issues, a new committee formed in the spring of 2016 to discuss what renovations were not included in the previous bond and what additional needs should be addressed now.

“The bond issue will help Derby public schools pay for enhancements to the physical buildings throughout the district and facilities,” said principal Tim Hamblin, who served on the high school subcommittee.

If passed, a bond issue raises property taxes to pay for renovations. Although a bond issue successfully passed in 2012 and the new bond issue is planned, historically, bond issues have been difficult to pass in Derby.

The 2018 bond issue consists of three sections, or “questions”. The first question is the main part of the bond issue, with plans for renovating Derby High School, Derby Middle School, the elementary schools, and Panther Stadium.

Question One

Main renovations for Derby High School include constructing an alternative learning center, which would double as a storm shelter, three additional PE spaces, new gym bleachers, security upgrades and expanded parking.

Hamblin proposed an alternative learning center when the high school subcommittee brought up building a tornado shelter the house half the student body.

“I said, ‘That would be great, but rather than just building a big room that sits empty all the time, could we maybe build it serves another purpose, too?’” Hamblin said. “…And I thought if we did it here we could do it for less money because I can take teacher out of here to staff this.”

The alternative learning center would be for students who prefer a “smaller, more flexible schedule” or benefit from online learning.

Some classrooms would undergo renovations. Culinary teacher Lexie Dill hopes to develop a restaurant event management pathway.

“It (the renovations) gets us to industry standards as far as getting our students an opportunity to practice what they might actually experience in culinary school or the restaurant business,” Dill said.

The renovations would include installing gas hoods for ventilation and new appliances.

Panther Stadium also would be renovated, receiving new bleachers and additional parking.

“Our stadium is very, very dangerous, it is very difficult to supervise the number of fans we have, the seating, the concrete is uneven, it’s very dangerous for fans,” Hamblin said.

Although football coach Brandon Clark thinks the renovations will mostly benefit the fans, he is thankful for the additional locker room.

“We do get an extra locker room which is going to help us out as needed. Our locker room is built for about thirty kids and we have well over a hundred,” Clark said.

Question Two

Question two is about the Panther Activity Center, a multi-purpose center with artificial grass so athletics and marching band can practice indoors when the weather is bad. It would also be open to the community.

“It’s something that I think our PE department needs, it’s something our communities are going use nonstop,” Clark said. “It’s something where we have a lot of parents from elementary school to high school, traveling Wichita to utilize facilities for that, so it’s going to save the Derby residents a lot of money and it’s something that we can take pride in.”

Question Three

Question three includes athletic updates, such as adding turf to the proposed soccer fields in Question one and building Varsity and JV softball fields on DHS property.

For softball player junior Madi Young, new softball fields would be “amazing” compared to the one at High Park.

“It’s really not our field. You have other teams like club teams and little kids playing on it, so the grass has holes in it and the field is way too long and there’s always rocks, so it’s kind of not good,” Young said.

Opposing Views

Students have mixed reactions about the bond issue.

“I think so far it will be a good thing to do to DHS. Considering that the auditorium needs renovation, we definitely need more learning things and definitely doing renovations to the gyms and the stadium and stuff is a good idea since we’re athletic-based in Derby,” junior Sherri Hutzbiller said.

While some support the bond issue, they wish less funding had been devoted to sports.

“It’s a lot of money on sports, mostly, and I would think that the orchestra or the choir could use even a little bit of that money,” sophomore Laura Hogan said. “And they are good ideas to renovate Panther Stadium and renovate everything else and build other things for sports, but what about the rest of our students?”

Questions two and three, mostly focusing on renovations for sports, also has caused controversy.

While agreeing with the bond issue, senior Lauren Tanner does not support questions two and three because she thinks that other renovations are more necessary.

“I’m kind of biased, I’ll admit it, my brother’s a swimmer, but I feel like we need to at least address why there isn’t a school swimming pool, because it is a real issue at swim meets,” Tanner said. “And I think that rather than building another gym, with a turf field or another turf field, we should either use that for something we actually need or use it to just renovate all the buildings, use that for more renovations other than building something completely new.”

Hamblin says the subcommittee felt the activity center would be utilized more by the community than a pool.

“It’s not that they didn’t want a pool, it’s just they knew the community wouldn’t do both, so we’re going to pick the one that we think would serve the most needs,” Hamblin said.

Community members can vote on whether to pass the bond issue tomorrow.