May 15, 2024

Hays USD 489 bond work ramps up this summer; board receives legislative update

Posted May 15, 2024 9:30 AM

Hays Post

Work is expected to ramp up on the two Hays USD bond projects this summer.

Construction crews have been doing dirt work, pouring concrete and installing infrastructure at the new Hays High School site, but Superintendent Ron Wilson said Monday precast walls will be going up soon.

This will include walls for the auditorium.

Hays High School construction. Courtesy photo
Hays High School construction. Courtesy photo
Hays High School construction. Courtesy photo
Hays High School construction. Courtesy photo

Last week, structural steel was started in area B and a firewall in area D/E. That work will continue this week. More infrastructure work is ongoing in multiple areas. Interior walls are being erected in area A.

Last week, drywall was hung at Roosevelt Elementary School, and work was done on the veneer on phase 4.1.

Masonry work and drywall installation will continue this week. Workers will also start roofing for the canopies for the expansion.

Roosevelt construction. Courtesy photo
Roosevelt construction. Courtesy photo
Roosevelt construction. Courtesy photo
Roosevelt construction. Courtesy photo
Roosevelt construction. Courtesy photo
Roosevelt construction. Courtesy photo

Legislative update

The Kansas Legislature has approved its K-12 funding bill for the year. The legislation passed included $75 million in additional funds for special education.

The state is required by law to fund 92 percent of the cost above what federal funding for special education covers. It has not done so for years.

In 2023-24 school year, the state funded special education at 69 percent of the excess costs.

This leaves the burden of financing the difference on local school districts, who must take money from their general funds to make up the difference.

Hays Superintendent Ron Wilson said a task force is being created to revise the school finance formula, which has not been revised since the 1990s. 

The state will pilot a new at-risk student funding accountability plan with 10 school districts in the state. The plan will be rolled out to the rest of the state the following year. 

Wilson said he did not know if Hays would be part of the pilot program.

A virtual student law will allow virtual students to participate in district activities without a minimum enrollment requirement in district classes, Wilson said.

The Legislature also passed a safe and secure schools grant that would give schools access to security cameras and software. Wilson said he did not know if USD 489 would take advantage of that bill.

The Legislature has also changed how it will count enrollment, which dictates funding. Enrollment will be based on the current year or the previous year's enrollment as of the 2025-26 school year.

USD 489's enrollment has been steady, but the change might more significantly affect schools in rural areas facing decreasing enrollments.

The district plans to close Lincoln Elementary School as part of the bond projects.

The current middle school is going to be remodeled into an elementary school. Wilson Elementary and Lincoln will be closed as elementary schools. The district plans to use Wilson for administrative offices.

The district will need to conduct a public hearing on the Lincoln closure. When a school district chooses to sell a school, the state has the first right of refusal. The Legislature would have to approve the sale.

Wilson said he would like the closure hearing in January so the Legislature could act while it is in session.

Board member Allen Park said he wanted to have a board discussion before January to consider other district uses for the school. Board President Ken Brooks said he would put the item on a September board meeting agenda.

Summer school will be offered for Hays High School and Hays Middle School students at HMS. It will not be offered at the elementary level. The district did not have enough teacher interest to offer elementary summer school this year.