VALLEY HEIGHTS USD 498 PREPARES FOR BOND VOTE In July of 2018 the USD 498 Board of Education initiated the development of a district Strategic Plan to address the Kansas Education System Accreditation goal of “Responsive Culture” that was selected to guide the district’s initial five-year accreditation cycle. In an effort to gain input from patrons and further direction moving forward, a public meeting was held in March of 2019. The Kansas Association of School Boards facilitated this event and over 80 patrons participated. From this meeting 28 pages of consensus reports from small groups were generated that summarized the information garnered and addressed the topics of students, programs, physical plant, personnel, culture/communication, strengths, challenges and future changes. In August of 2019 both the Board of Education and the District Site Council segregated the 28 pages of data and met jointly soon after to narrow the scope of the data. By November of that same year three Smart Goals were developed with one addressing the physical plant and leading to a feasibility study for building a second competitive gym. A facility tour with five architectural firms was conducted and in January of 2020 the Board of Education selected Ben Moore Studios of Manhattan, Kansas. An initial plan for a bond project with upgrades to all three campuses, including a new competition gym at Valley Heights Jr. Sr. High School was presented in February of 2020. The initial renderings and cost estimates included new electrical and HVAC, finishes, security, roofing, as well as program and site enhancements. The associated cost estimates for the Waterville Grade School, the Blue Rapids Grade School and Valley Heights Jr./Sr. High totaled $17,600,000 for the cumulative project for improvements at all three sites. The Covid-19 Pandemic resulted in the closure of all Kansas school systems in March of 2020 and the escalation of the project was suspended as the country and the economy focused on the resulting protocols that impeded immediate progress. On July 1, 2020 the district superintendency also shifted when John Bergkamp, who held that position for 18 years, retired and Melissa Kennedy took the reins as his successor. In the fall of 2020, the District Site Council convened and reviewed the plans presented by the architect that spring and conversation revolved around potential cost savings should all three facilities consolidate into one unified campus. In analyzing energy usage, staffing, and maintenance costs, the potential annual district savings identified approached the $250,000 mark and the team solicited the architect to create such a plan that could be compared with the improvements proposed at all three facilities. A meeting was held in February of 2021 that included the Valley Heights Board of Education, Stifel Finance, Ben Moore Studios, the District Site Council and the city councils of both Blue Rapids and Waterville, as well as many community members. Both plans were shared along with the many benefits for students and staff should a consolidated campus be pursued. The feedback, comments and concerns shared by patrons and councils at that meeting allowed the Site Council to continue refining and adapting the plan and to identify in more detail needs vs. wants. Following that meeting a decision was made to reduce the fiscal and geographical footprint of the district by selling two additional buildings located in Waterville and relocate those services to existing campus buildings. The Parents as Teachers program consolidated with the existing Preschool, and the Board of Education office was relocated to available space at the Jr./Sr. High School. Throughout the remainder of 2021 the District Site Council merged with representatives of both City Councils to create an Ad Hoc Committee that continued to meet regularly and further develop plans before offering the current bond project proposal to the Board of Education. On June 2, 2022 a Special Board Meeting was held to adopt a bond resolution and conduct a special election on August 30th, 2022 which will allow USD 498 voters to decide the future of the project and the school district as a whole. The August election has two separate questions for consideration, as the Board and Committee wanted to provide voters with options instead of an all-or-nothing scenario. Question No. 1 requests the authority to issue no more than $13.865 million in bonds to construct a new Elementary School addition, an auxiliary Gym/Multi-Purpose addition and other improvements at the Valley Heights campus midway between Waterville and Blue Rapids. The District believes there are significant annual operating savings and efficiencies by combining services at the neutral site. Question No. 2 requests the authority to issue no more than $4.675 million in bonds to make other improvements to district buildings that include upgrades to the existing Valley Heights High School mechanical equipment, the existing Vo-Ag building, and improvements to the Blue Rapids gymnasium. As Question No. 1 is considered the highest priority, if Question 1 is not approved, the result of Question 2 is immaterial. Voters choices, therefore, are Question 1 alone, Questions 1 and 2 combined, or nothing. Question 1 of the proposal is estimated to require a net mill levy increase of 13.48 mills—added taxes on a $100,000 home of $12.92 per month. Question 2 would require an additional 6.03 mills—added taxes of $5.78 per month on a $100,000 residence. A mill is $1 of tax on each $1,000 of assessed valuation of taxable property in the District. The District has started the formation of a K.I.D.S. (Keep Improving District Schools) Committee to gather and share information about District challenges, the Proposed Solutions, and the Bond Issue Cost. The goal of the KIDS Committee is that every patron and voter in USD 498 have enough information to make an informed decision on or before Election Day, August 30th. The Committee will be developing informational flyers and brochures, forming a Speaker’s Bureau, scheduling community meetings, and other activities to create awareness for the bond vote. Co-chairs of the KIDS Committee are Kenneth Steinfort and Chad Parker. Anyone interested in helping with the Committee or if you would like to have KIDS committee members address the bond project with your group or organization you are encouraged to contact USD 498 Superintendent Melissa Kennedy at 785-363-2398. The first of several community meetings will be held on Sunday, July 10th, with meetings at the Blue Rapids Community Center at 2:00 p.m. and the Waterville Community Center at 4:00 p.m. Patrons of USD 498 are encouraged to attend either session.
Clean out the medicine cabinet to prevent accidental overdose in your home. Drug disposal pouches are FREE and an environmentally friendly way to deactivate any medicines you need to dispose. #safehomes #drugfree
Summer weights schedule this week: 6:00 AM - Boys 7:00 AM - Girls 8:00 AM - JH
Families in the VH communities who are struggling with the rising costs of food can receive assistance at the FOOD PANTRY tomorrow, Saturday, June 25 at the BR Methodist Church 9am-10am. #foodforyourfamily #helpingfamilyfoodbudgets
Help fill the care bus with school supplies! See our amazon wish list and ship your order to Schools That Care this summer to prepare for enrollment August 3 & 4. https://bit.ly/backTOschoolsThatcare #thanksforyoursupport #schoolstartsinAugust #schoolsuppliesforstudents
As shared earlier in the week, students at Camp Exploration focused on the theme of responsibility. Students engaged in discussions and completed lessons surrounding this topic. We encourage parents to use the guide provided in the picture to continue the conversation at home.
It is week 3 at Camp Exploration, this week's character education theme is responsibility! We will have lessons and activities that center around what it means to be responsible inside and outside of school. We encourage parents to continue this conversation at home.
Summer Weights Schedule this week: Girls - 6:00 AM Boys - 7:00 AM JH - 8:00 AM
As shared earlier in the week, the VHES students at Camp Exploration focused on the theme of respect. Students engaged in discussions and completed lessons surrounding this topic. We encourage parents to use the guide provided in the picture to continue the conversation at home.
It is week 2 at Camp Exploration, this week's character education theme is respect! We will have lessons and activities that center around showing respect to yourself, property and others inside and outside of school. We encourage parents to continue this conversation at home.
During National Safety month this June is a good time to review driving and pedestrian safety tips. #stayalert #usethecrosswalk #eyecontact
Summer Weights: We will have weights tomorrow morning. Schedule for the week: Boys - 6:00 AM Girls - 7:00 AM JH - 8:00 AM Since we missed today, we will have weights on Wednesday.
Recycling is this Saturday, June 18, from 9:30 - 11 am at the Waterville RV park on East Commercial. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS. It takes 6-7 people to make it run smoothly! If you would like to help please email email@example.com or send a message.
Due to Saturday’s storms there will be no Camp Exploration, Monday, June 13.
Summer Weights: We will not have weights tomorrow morning. I will keep you updated on when we will pick back up.
VHHS - JUNIOR HIGH and HIGH SCHOOL will not have summer school Monday June 12th.
As shared Monday, the students in Camp Exploration focused this week on the character education theme of Honesty. Students completed inquisitive lessons, thought provoking activities and fruitful conversations surrounding this topic. We encourage parents to use the guide provided in the picture to continue the conversation at home.
Your Valley Heights 2022-2023 cheer squad worked hard today at UCA cheer camp day one! Excited for the squad to showcase what they learn!
Don't forget, kids 1-18 eat FREE this summer at Valley Heights Waterville Elementary! Come get fueled up!
Help keep kids and families safe this summer! June is National Safety Month! What have you done to keep your family safe? #safetymatters #safehomes #safeneighbors #safecommunities #safesummer