Tonganoxie — Tonganoxie school board members spent about three hours Monday defending against attacks on various board actions.
Several disgruntled patrons attended the school board meeting. Among other issues, the group said they were concerned about: the procedure that led to the school bond election; hiring additional administrators; the number of out-district students attending Tonganoxie schools tuition-free; and the board's choice not to have property appraised before purchasing it.
Tonganoxie school district voters last Tuesday defeated a $9.2 million bond issue that would have financed construction of an upper elementary school and an addition to the high school.
In response to the patrons' questions, the school board has scheduled two town meetings, one on Nov. 23 and the second on Dec. 1.
Bill Walker, Tonganoxie, told the board, "I think a lot of the vote was a lack of confidence. People that are struggling have a hard time justifying the money coming through here."
Roxane McCoy, president of the Tonganoxie PTA, said the organization polled its members and found overwhelming support for the bond issue. However, bond issue opponents said they were disappointed that the board bought land and had plans drawn up before getting the go-ahead from the public.
SUPT. RON Burgess explained that the district followed procedures required by the state.
Buck Keister, a school district patron, sounded a number of concerns. He said information about enrollment projections included in a recent district newsletter was misleading. However, Burgess said the future enrollment estimates included in the newsletter were as accurate as possible.
Keister also said the Tonganoxie Mirror, a weekly newspaper, had printed incorrect information about the bond issue. The errors ranged from printing an incorrect amount of the bond issue to inaccurate numbers in an advertisement purchased by opponents of the bond issue.
Regardless of who made the errors, Keister maintains, it is up to the school board to set the record straight.
Jacki Himpel, communications specialist for the district, explained that the week before the election, the Mirror printed a large advertisement paid for by opponents of the bond issue. The ad included a number of falacies in its argument against the bond issue. The board had no opportunity to respond in the paper, which wasn't printed again until the day after the election.
KEN WILES, Tonganoxie, raised several issues. His main concern appeared to be centered on the fact that the district didn't obtain an appraisal for property it purchased in December 1991. The board approved the purchase of 80 acres bordering the southeast corner of town for $200,000.
Wayne Rahija, board member, said several real estate agents told him the district paid a fair price for the land, which was determined to be the most economical and feasible for a future school out of five sites considered by the board.
Hearing the questions from patrons, school board members agreed that misinformation circulating through the district could inhibit efforts to solve the space crunch in the district's schools. So they scheduled two town meetings at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23 and on Dec. 1 in the elementary school multipurpose room.
The meetings will give patrons an opportunity to ask questions anonymously, and the board will ask for feedback on alternatives to building, such as year-round school, split-shift classes, or the purchase of modular classrooms.