When Lawrence school board member Mary Loveland read that membership dues for the Kansas Association of School Boards were going to increase by 82 percent, she thought it was a misprint.
But it wasn't. The KASB is increasing dues for members statewide to help pay for a $2.8 million building that the Topeka-based organization began using in December.
For the Lawrence school board, that means 1993-94 membership dues would be $13,145, compared with $7,228 this year. That 82 percent increase shocked Loveland. Dues have increased 22 percent over the last six years.
The higher dues would continue for the next three years, which is the period in which KASB would like to pay off the mortgage on the building.
LOVELAND said the increased dues have raised some questions in her mind, and she might not be ready to vote on the board's KASB membership, as the board is scheduled to do at its meeting tonight. Meanwhile, board member Tom Murray said he plans to vote against the board's membership in KASB.
"I voted against renewing our membership in the KASB last year because of my personal opposition to the purchase of an executive building for $2.8 million that was substantially beyond the needs of that organization," Murray said. "We now find that our dues are going to be increased by almost 100 percent so that these people can work in opulent surroundings paid for by all property-tax payers in Kansas."
AS A school board candidate in 1991, Murray had criticized the Lawrence school board for its $600,000 purchase of the former Elks Lodge, 3705 Clinton Pkwy., for use as district offices.
However, Murray said, "Our school district's purchase of the Elks Lodge for administrative offices pales in comparison with this purchase in Topeka."
Said Loveland, "I personally recognize the value of purchasing a facility over renting space because at the end of a lease period, you have absolutely nothing in terms of investment to show for it."
Nevertheless, she said, "It's very difficult for me to have such a big jump in dues and such usage of our tax dollars."
Loveland said she would like to have a chance to visit the KASB building before voting on the board's KASB membership.
The 39,000-square-foot building is located at 1420 Arrowhead in Topeka. Before KASB purchased the building, it had been used by an insurance group. Before moving to the building, KASB worked out of two separate buildings with a combined square footage of 16,000.
PAT BAKER, associate executive director of the KASB, said the extra space was needed to allow KASB to expand its services. Also, she said, "We hope to use some of this building to do programs and workshops in-house rather than use facilities elsewhere."
She said that will allow KASB to save on costs of renting hotel conference rooms and other similar spaces.