Archive for Friday, September 14, 2012

Bond issue

September 14, 2012


Most of the local and national political attention is focused on the Nov. 6 general election, but local taxpayers also should be interested in the groundwork being laid by the Lawrence school district for an item that’s likely to appear on their ballots next spring: a bond issue to pay for improvements to district buildings.

At its Monday meeting, the Lawrence school board approved an agreement with Gould Evans Associates to do “pre-bond-issue election planning” for the district. This action grew out of a decision by board members last spring not to consider any consolidation of local elementary schools. Having put off certain elementary facility needs while consolidation was being considered, the district leadership now sees the need to move forward on work at the elementary schools. They also hope the bond issue will allow for some improvements they think are needed to help accommodate the addition of ninth-graders to the district’s two high schools and “the expansion of high school career and technical programs.”

To that end, the board agreed to pay the Gould Evans architecture firm $120,180 to come up with a plan. According to the board agenda, the firm’s task is “to develop a strategy that balances the many space, land use, academic and infrastructure needs of the Lawrence Public Schools …”

Presumably (maybe it would be better to say “hopefully), the firm also will consider the needs of local taxpayers, who will be asked to approve and financially support the bond issue. The board’s agenda also noted that the retirement of some current school bond issues offered the board “an opportunity to issue a significant amount in new bonds without increasing taxes.”

Neither the district administration nor the board is saying how much “a significant amount” may be, but there are reasons the district should be conservative in its planning and not be too quick to promise that a bond issue can be approved without increasing taxes. Even if the district’s bond commitments remain steady, it’s hard to say whether state funding for K-12 schools will do the same. During the last session of the Kansas Legislature, both the governor and some legislators floated plans that could push more responsibility for local school funding to local districts, which almost certainly would result in local property tax increases.

The planning has just started, but the ball certainly is rolling toward a bond question on next spring’s ballot. It will be interesting to see where it ends up.


repaste 5 years, 3 months ago

It might appear that the Gould Evans architecture firm would the ones running our city! They certainly are getting wealthy off tax dollars.

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

After the school spent several million dollars on new athletic fields based on a "capital improvement" bond which I voted for, I'm much less likely to vote for school bonds in the future.

I didn't vote yes for new expensive athletic fields, and expected the money to be spent on HVAC improvements, repairs to buildings/classrooms/etc.

Bigdog66046 5 years, 3 months ago

Because of all the reckless spending of the district on the POORLY planned and rushed athletic fields, ANY bond for the next 10 years will be a NO vote for me and everyone else i know. They need to learn to live within their (our) means first, and put NEEDS before WANTS before they will be getting more! at least hopefully all the taxpayers will wake up and start voting! Enough wasting our tax dollars!

Patricia Davis 5 years, 3 months ago

Big dog, I am right there with you. Just say NO!

4getabouit 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll vote yes on this bond. Just like I did on the last one. The improvements made were long overdue, especially the athletic venues which are fantastic and good for Lawrence kids.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 3 months ago

Not when the money should have been used to repair leaky roofs on grade schools.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Plan B is necessary

The city and county agreed to reduce their mill levies when a bond issue was going before voters to build Free State High school according to a April 2,2001 LJW article. Mike Wildgen was city manager at that time.

If a bond issue is submitted and fails what then? USD 497 simply cannot ignore the situation any longer. This rehab work probably should have commenced 15 years ago. An existing Plan B set to go would display fiscal and political savvy in the eyes of taxpayers. What a novel idea and one that would be respected.

How should the school district pay for a $16.5 million maintenance backlog in elementary schools?
61% over a period of time - 31% do a bond issue

How? We must consider existing tax dollars going to the capitol outlay funds over a period of 3-5 years.

At $7.5 million USD 497 tax dollars a year in capital outlay funds this maintenance could be accomplished in 3-5 years without raising taxes or borrowing money. USD 497 2011 Facilities and Maintenance Capital Outlay Priorities suggests(?) $6,440,000 could be spent perhaps annually towards the rehab projects.

Any further spending on the PLAY sports project needs to be curtailed in order to support the rehab project. Taxpayer owned properties aka elementary school buildings cannot be neglected further.

School Priorities

One might consider including Plan B on the ballot in order to secure or lock in the Plan B. Thus preventing a different USD 497 BOD from cutting off the project.

Next = Biting the Bullet

Put the USD 497 admin building on the market. Buying this building was not popular among taxpayers. What’s up with East Heights?

Selling off the new 76 acres @ $23,000 per acre which was purchased as an investment so to speak according to Scott Morgan.

George_Braziller 5 years, 3 months ago

Cold day in hell before I'd vote for this one.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 3 months ago

Before we consider a new bond:

  1. What can they accomplish within the current budget?
  2. How much in the budget is unmet?
  3. Specifically, what unmet budget items would be in the bond issue?

It's a shame USD 497 squandered the last bond and lost our trust. Unfortunately, there may be some serious needs to address, if we can afford them. The schools fly under the radar too often. We should give the board more input/feedback. The board's priorities should match ours. Somehow, we have to break the wild spending sprees in Lawrence.

Centerville 5 years, 2 months ago

Since some bonds will be paid off, how much will an average taxpayer get to keep if theses bonds aren't replaced with new any new ones?

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Call the city and/or the school board and ask them - perhaps you can find out.

William Ed 5 years, 2 months ago

Amen. Has anyone used the word tax decease??

gbulldog 5 years, 2 months ago

The education system and the Liberal ilk of this country are destoying the self confidence of students by the way they classify them. As and example, not all 11 year old have the same ability, yet the education systems promotes them when they become a year older because to not promote them, would hurt the "feelings" of the student. Each person is born with different abilities. And they develope differntly. Any how well can a teacher teach given the quatity of students coming into the class room. How do you teach when some of the 11 year olds read on 1st grade level, some read on the 5th grade level, and some read on highschool level? The teach does not have the time, and the more advance students get the shaft.

Carol Bowen 5 years, 2 months ago

I would probably be classified as a liberal on some issues, however I do not support social promotions or excessive mainstreaming in schools. Kindly, do not constrain my thinking to "liberal" or refer to liberal thinking in a deragotory manner. You have posted very good input many times. No need to stereotype.

William Ed 5 years, 2 months ago

What a unique concept. Use boundary changes to utilize under-capacity existing facilities instead of spending dollars to build excess capacity. Lets see a bus route costs $35,000 a year, the payments on a mega bond run $500,000. Let's chose the megabond. DUH...

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