Two high-profile state politicians from Lawrence are leading a political action committee to campaign in favor of the Lawrence school district's $92.5 million bond proposal.
Rep. Paul Davis, the Kansas House Democratic leader, and Republican Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger announced Wednesday that they will serve as co-chairs of the committee "Yes for Lawrence."
During a news conference at Cordley School to announce the new committee, Davis said one challenge will be to convince people who don't have children in the school system to support the bond proposal anyway.
"What we're going to try to do is really sell the whole community on the fact that whether you have kids in the school system or not, this is just a really important thing for our community," Davis said. "Lawrence is a great place to live, and one of the reasons it's a great place to live is because of the schools that we have here, and we need to have the kind of facilities that foster the best learning environment that we can offer. I think this is going to make Lawrence an even more attractive place to live."
Voters in the Lawrence district will decide the bond proposal at the April 2 general election. If approved, most of the proceeds would go for renovating and expanding the 14 elementary schools, with most of that focused on bringing the six older schools in central and east Lawrence up to the same standards as the newer schools.
Money would also be used to upgrade technology throughout the district and to expand career and technical education programs for high school students.
District officials are calling it a "no-tax-increase" bond proposal because they say it would not result in an increase in the district's property tax levy for debt service payments. That's because the district is retiring a large amount of existing bonds this year.
Praeger said she believes the bond proposal is preferable to the alternative that was considered earlier, closing and consolidating some of the older elementary schools.
"What this will do is really strengthen the neighborhood-community school concept because it will bring all of our elementary schools up to 21st century standards," she said. "That makes a very strong statement for all of our neighborhoods, and I think that's good for the community as a whole too."
School board President Vanessa Sanburn said the committee raised about $600 during an organizational meeting Tuesday night. She said they hope to raise about $15,000 for the entire campaign.
So far, no organized committees have been formed to oppose the bond issue.