Lawrence school district officials are conducting a series of public meetings to explain the $92.5 million bond proposal that will appear on the April 2 ballot.
Schedule of Bond Issue Informational Meetings
• Jan. 29, 5:45 p.m., Langston Hughes School, 1101 George Williams Way.
• Feb. 4, 6 p.m., Pinckney School, 810 W. Sixth St.
• Feb. 5, 6:15 p.m., New York School, 936 New York St.
• Feb. 6, 5 p.m., Southwest Middle School, 2511 Inverness Drive.
• Feb. 7, 6 p.m., Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, 1400 Massachusetts St.
• Feb. 7, 7 p.m., Kennedy School, 1605 Davis Road.
• Feb. 8, 6 p.m., South Middle School, 2734 Louisiana St.
• Feb. 27, 7 p.m., Cordley School, 1837 Vermont St.
• Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m., Prairie Park School, 2711 Kensington Road.
• March 4, 6:30 p.m., West Middle School, 2700 Harvard Road.
• March 5, 5:30 p.m., Schwegler School, 2201 Ousdahl Road.
• March 6, 5:45 p.m., Woodlawn School, 508 Elm St.
• March 12, 6 p.m., Quail Run School, 1130 Inverness Drive.
• March 13, 6:30 p.m., Hillcrest School, 1045 Hilltop Drive.
The meetings appear to be the only organized effort so far, other than media coverage, to communicate a message about the bond proposal to potential voters. Unlike previous bond issues, no political action committee has yet been formed to openly campaign for or against the ballot issue, according to the Douglas County clerk’s office.
Julie Boyle, communications director for the school district, said in an email Wednesday that fliers announcing the meetings have been distributed by schools to the parents of their students.
Carol Williams, executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, said no statute specifically prohibits that. The only statute on the subject, she said, prohibits the use of public funds or facilities to campaign for or against identifiable candidates in an election.
Mark Tallman of the Kansas Association of School Boards, said school districts are discouraged from using public resources to openly campaign for or against ballot issues. Instead, he said, the organization advises its members that districts may inform voters about a bond proposal, but not promote a particular vote.
The flier distributed through the schools states: “Find out how this community plan improves your neighborhood school.”
At the bottom of the flier, it reads: “Produced by Lawrence Public Schools to provide community information about the April 2, 2013, No-Tax-Increase School Bond Issue Election.”
“We are having informational sessions so the public can learn about what the bond issue contains,” Boyle said. “That’s our responsibility, to inform the public about what the bond issue is all about. We don’t advocate for voting a particular way.”
School officials say passage of the bond issue would not result in a tax increase because the district is retiring existing bonds this year.
The bonds would be used to fund building improvements at the district’s 14 elementary schools and two high schools, as well as technology upgrades throughout the district and expansion of career and technical education programs.