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Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

Rejection of bond likely won’t end effort

March 30, 2003

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If Lawrence voters reject the school district's proposed $59 million bond issue Tuesday, there is little doubt they'll face a revised bond in the near future.

All eight candidates for school board -- four seats will be filled Election Day -- say they think it's necessary to raise property taxes to improve facilities in the Lawrence public school district.

Four candidates are convinced it would be best to pass the current package, which would make improvements at 15 schools.

The other four candidates say the best approach would be to reject the current plan and come up with a substitute that more accurately reflects the community's wishes.

"Should the current bond fail, we'll literally go back to the drawing board," said candidate Michael Pomes, a bond opponent.

However, incumbent Mary Loveland said rehashing the issues would be a mistake.

"The buildings are not going to heal themselves," Loveland said.

Scott Morgan, board president and a bond supporter, said elementary schools would close even if the bond failed. Budget problems require reducing the number of elementary schools to 15, he said.

"The great fallacy floating out there is that nothing will change if we just vote the bond down," he said.

Bond foe and candidate Leonard Ortiz said the current bond should be significantly reworked if it fails. He compared the process to buying a car. People shouldn't accept a dealership's sticker price, he said.

"You come back with a counteroffer," he said. "That's what we need to do here."

Ortiz said the school board should rewrite the $59 million bond in a way that kept popular projects such as replacement of South Junior High School and discarded unpopular actions such as elementary school consolidation.

Sue Morgan, a bond supporter running for re-election, said failure of the bond would have negative financial and educational implications.

A revised bond will cost taxpayers more money, she said. In addition, she said, delaying improvements in schools would inhibit the district's ability to deliver the curriculum.

"It's a pay-me-now or pay-me-later issue," she said.

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