Trustees of Sedgwick County Unified School District 259 last week revived $8 million of bond projects at nine Kansas schools that had been postponed, but they are still looking for additional financing to build tornado safe rooms at district schools.
Voters approved a $370 million general obligation bond program in 2008 that included construction of 60 safe rooms, hardened with up to 12 inches of concrete and capable of withstanding the forces generated by an F-5 tornado.
Superintendent John Allison told trustees that the district had been expecting a $13 million federal grant to help finance the tornado-proof facilities but the aid has not materialized.
The district remains committed to the safe-room effort, Allison said, but will have to shift funds from other bond projects to complete the program.
Trustees put 30 expansion and renovation projects on hold in November 2011 when officials determined the district could not afford to hire teachers for the new classrooms provided through the bond program.
The work approved last week will involve seven elementary schools and two middle schools. The projects include storm shelters, library renovations and new classrooms at two schools with enrollment increases.
The district, which serves the city of Wichita, has an enrollment of around 50,000 students.
Sedgwick Unified has $480 million of outstanding GO debt, rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service.