Stacy Jolley can breathe a little easier after the Millard school board meeting Monday night.
Recent school shootings across the nation elevated her concern for the safety of her two children, who attend Harvey Oaks Elementary.
Jolley let out a whoop Monday after learning that Harvey Oaks is one of 14 elementary schools with open floor plans that would be renovated for security purposes under a proposed bond issue.
The renovations account for $14.2 million of a proposed $80 million bond issue that the school district staff unveiled Monday. The proposal is smaller than the $140.8 million bond issue that failed in 2011, but it contains some of the same projects.
Missing from this plan is about $23 million in technology purchases, including computers, servers and cabling. Those features were removed from the bond issue and will be financed with a lease-purchase agreement.
Board member Linda Poole called the new proposal “bare bones and what’s absolutely necessary.”
The proposal, which Superintendent Keith Lutz emphasized is not yet final, includes $33 million for capital projects such as roof repairs, painting and paving.
It would add buzz-in front doors and video cameras to all district schools, which would be locked during the day after students arrive.
The proposal would add classrooms to Rohwer and Upchurch Elementary Schools and also to either Black Elk Elementary or Beadle Middle School, depending on long-range enrollment projections still under review.
The additions, along with adjustments in attendance boundaries, are intended to handle expected enrollment growth in the district’s western reaches, Lutz said.
The bond issue would add industrial tech space at Millard South and Millard West, and it would create a single, more-secure front entry at Millard North, while adding a lecture hall and new connecting corridor between wings to reduce hallway congestion.
School board members have until March 25 to complete the project list and send ballot language to election commissioners in Douglas and Sarpy Counties for inclusion on the May 14 election ballot.
Jolley had appealed to the board to make security a priority in the aftermath of recent school shootings, including the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
She said staff members at Harvey Oaks have done what they can to protect children, but creating interior walls, so classrooms can be locked down, requires action from the board. The open-classroom layouts were popular in the 1970s.
In an interview, Jolley said there’s no way to “100 percent guarantee” students’ safety.
“It’s just not possible,” she said. “But you can take measures to increase safety and increase the odds of survival in an unspeakable tragedy.”
The bond issue, as proposed, would initially cost the owner of a $150,000 home approximately $60 more a year in property taxes but would decrease in subsequent years, officials said.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1077, firstname.lastname@example.org