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Archive for Tuesday, April 2, 2013

School bond issue sails to passage

April 2, 2013

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Smiles and applause fill the room as school bond issue supporters celebrate their victory shortly after the results were shown on the big screen of the Alton Ballroom at Pachamama's. Pictured from left are Nancy Hamilton, Adina Morse, Vanessa Sanburn with her three-month-old daughter, Amelia Lowen and Jennifer Osborn. Sanburn and Morse were the top two vote getters in the school board race, respectively. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Smiles and applause fill the room as school bond issue supporters celebrate their victory shortly after the results were shown on the big screen of the Alton Ballroom at Pachamama's. Pictured from left are Nancy Hamilton, Adina Morse, Vanessa Sanburn with her three-month-old daughter, Amelia Lowen and Jennifer Osborn. Sanburn and Morse were the top two vote getters in the school board race, respectively. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

The Lawrence school district's $92.5 million bond issue proposal passed easily Tuesday, with an overwhelming level of voter approval that surprised a few supporters.

"I thought we had a good shot, but I've been cautiously optimistic," superintendent Rick Doll said at an election watch party in downtown Lawrence as the results came in. "But we did plan, and I think people recognized that it was a good plan."

With 84 out of 86 precincts reporting Tuesday night, unofficial results showed the bond proposal sailing to passage, with 72 percent of the vote.

About $80 million of that money is earmarked for upgrades and renovations to the district's 14 elementary schools and two high schools. Most of that will focus on six older schools in central and east Lawrence: Cordley, Hillcrest, Kennedy, New York, Pinckney and Sunset Hill.

Another $6.5 million will go for upgrading technology throughout the district, while $5.7 million is earmarked for expanding career and technical education programs offered at the district's Holcom Center.

The bonds are not expected to increase taxes. Officials have said the bonds will be issued in phases over the next three years, at the same time the district retires old bonds, so that the new bonds will not result in an increase in the property tax levy for debt service payments.

"I think it's a statement about how much the people of Lawrence care about their schools and making sure that we're going to have first-class facilities so that our children can have the best learning opportunities available," said Kansas House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, who co-chaired the "Yes for Lawrence" committee that campaigned for the bond issue.

Despite the size of the bond issue, there was little organized opposition to it during the campaign. Meanwhile, all four candidates running for seats on the school board endorsed it, as did the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

School board candidate Kristie Adair said she was not surprised by the margin. "Everybody I've been talking to understands that we need to support our community, and the basis of any good community is its schools." Adair said.

Doll said district officials will begin work quickly to hire architects and a project manager to finalize the design and specifications for all of the projects, as well as setting a schedule for the projects.

Doll said construction projects at some of the elementary schools will be so extensive that those buildings may have to close temporarily, with students moved to other locations until the work is completed.

"We don't know yet, but that's a possibility," he said. "Where our buildings need significant remodeling, there will be portions of the buildings for sure where we'll have to get kids out. Now, whether that's in mobile units on site or off site, those are decisions we'll have to make later."

Doll said construction and remodeling at the six older schools is expected to take at least a year.

Comments

Sue McDaniel 1 year, 8 months ago

Lawrence residents must be getting out their money trees, sports complex, school bonds, and I am forgetting a few other major expenses when the residents (other than the ones who work out of Lawrence or are Administrators, Drs, etc.) rarely have decent paying jobs? Interesting......did anyone know the economy/housing is not doing well?

IreneAdler84 1 year, 8 months ago

It seems like the vast majority of Lawrence residents realized that education is an important investment. My faith in this community has been restored.

gr 1 year, 8 months ago

Be wez gettin' a liberry. Wez can't afford kidz.

jesse499 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't have a problem with paying for kids education I have a problem with what they actually do with the money after they get it. Build and bus is all they can think of.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

One must be curious why so many residential projects continue being approved which in reality can suffocate existing property values. Are some still practicing reckless lending? Flooding markets never pays back.

When millions lose jobs they look to education as a means to improve their personal marketability. Lawrence needs to provide as much as possible locally. Education is one of the few investments that pay back consistently.

msezdsit 1 year, 8 months ago

To bad Brownback doesn't get the message. Education is still the foundation of our society.

ku4me2 1 year, 8 months ago

As responsible voters we passed the bond. And now as responsible citizens we must make sure the district does there part without any deception or dishonesty. I am skeptical but hopeful that this board will keep everyone at the ESDC honest and if changes are made they are communicated as well as the bond information was. I would like an call from Ms. Boyle stating that instead of the new technology that was budgeted for in the bond, LHS will be getting new turf for the football field. USD 497 has the means to communicate, let's just hope they realize the faith the voters have placed in them.

Clevercowgirl 1 year, 8 months ago

The District does it's part without deception or dishonesty...hahahahahahaha

gr 1 year, 8 months ago

New turf?

Increase our taxes for grass!

average 1 year, 8 months ago

You're not the only one who voted for it with every finger crossed. In reality, there's not really much stopping USD 497 from going off the rails with the bond money for whatever latest hareball scheme in a cornfield that Fritzel/Schwada/Compton can come up with for them. The main reason for hope is that, since all the sports facilities are relatively new, they're satisfied in that way for a while. Or, they might decide to spend it all on lacrosse courts (one for each school, can't be unfair!). Never can tell.

William Ed 1 year, 8 months ago

The voters will get what they deserve, as usual. Will the parents in Quail Run realize that because they couldn't find time to vote, their kids will be going to Sunset Hill, and the Langston Hughes parents may be surprised that because they couldn't make time to vote, their kids will get to cross Wakarusa Blvd. to attend Quail Run. When the teaching staff has to be reduced to provide the additional staff to manage the $92.5 Million in contracts, will they worry about all the empty brand new classrooms? Citizens are supposed to educate themselves and cast votes accordingly. I guess that didn't happen.

IreneAdler84 1 year, 8 months ago

2 days ago I would feel the need to explain the difference between the capital outlat budget and operating costs. Today, your ignorance is no longer the community's problem.

GMom05 1 year, 8 months ago

No one said anything about the bond being a part of operating costs. What skags is saying is, as funding disappears at the state level we won't have enough money to pay all our teachers. So the BOE will be forced to raise class sizes and let teachers go. Then we'll be stuck paying on newly built classrooms we can't even afford to occupy. Just felt the need to explain.

GMom05 1 year, 8 months ago

This is absolutely true. It came up at one of the district informational meetings. As enrollment increases on the west side, those on the west side will see boundary changes and will start to be moved further east toward the center of town (the 6 core schools, which are 'in the right place.') There will be kids moving to Sunset Hills and Quail Run just as skags says. Don't get too comfortable at QR and LH, why else do you think they added 9 additional classrooms (above portable replacement) to Sunset Hill? To make room for you! We warned you to be careful what you wished for.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Would you favor a sales tax increase or tapping an existing revenue stream to provide more $$$$ to Lawrence teacher salaries?

Teacher Salary Support http://www2.ljworld.com/polls/2003/mar/teacher_salaries/

Of 5,198 voting 80% said yes. Remarkable ( of course we know this won't fly UNLESS the state legislature says yes)

BUT instead of shooting for a tax increase I say city government help out the school district.

Forward 10%-15% of the existing 1995 city sales tax money to the school district to provide teachers a raise. It is worth a shot but will not come easy. “Let the voter decide” This will leave 85%- 90% of the sales tax to the park department…. Not too shabby.

Of course dedicating 10%-15% of the existing 1995 city sales tax money to the school district to provide teachers pay increases is better use of the money than a $31million $$$ rec center.

BTW this special sales tax can be delegated to any need. It is NOT dedicated.

meatheadwisdom 1 year, 8 months ago

I may be wrong, but I believe this kind of tax increase has to be a county wide decision for all county schools, not at the city level. Again, I'm not sure.

gr 1 year, 8 months ago

"The bonds are not expected to increase taxes. "

WRONG! If the bonds weren't passed, the tax rate would be lower. But since they were passed, the tax rate will increase up to about their current rates. So yes, it does increase taxes. It just doesn't increase them back up to higher than what they are now.

Will this go to in-classroom education?

Will this go to teachers?

Nope. Sports and toys and board wants and wishes and dreams and anything and everything but education.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

Capital Funds cannot be used for teacher pay..... state law.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 8 months ago

"Where our buildings need significant remodeling, there will be portions of the buildings for sure where we'll have to get kids out. Now, whether that's in mobile units on site or off site, those are decisions we'll have to make later."

Doll said construction and remodeling at the six older schools is expected to take at least a year."

East Heights Building would be useful....

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