Archive for Sunday, March 24, 2013

Editorial: Bond reservations

Questions about the process and details of Lawrence’s proposed $92.5 million school bond issue don’t inspire an enthusiastic endorsement.

March 24, 2013


Chances are, every voter who marks a ballot in the April 2 $92.5 million school bond election has a memory of his or her elementary school — the building itself and the teachers and principal.

Those memories, in addition to current familiarity with the condition of many older Lawrence school buildings, may frame each voter’s decision to favor or oppose the ballot question.

No one would wish a decrepit facility on today’s students. Those who are urging passage of the bond question rightly point out that upgrades to space, to HVAC systems and to technology will enhance the education that youngsters get while attending classes in these buildings.

Proponents also hammer home the point that there is no tax increase associated with the bond issue, and that it will provide jobs in Lawrence for a number of years. They also point to the career education component of the issue.

Those are valid arguments.

But they’re not overwhelmingly persuasive.

On the career education piece, differences apparently remain over the district’s plans to locate the facility at Holcolm Park instead of the site preferred by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce at the former Farmland location on Kansas Highway 10.

On the overall issue, questions remain about the board’s approach, which seemed to involve going from school to school essentially promising to meet the wishes of patrons, and then maxing out the bond issue at $92.5 million, the most that could be financed without a tax increase – at least in that fund. Is this the best and most honest way to meet the overall needs of the district and assure a quality education for the district’s students?

Certainly the process has identified legitimate needs that should be addressed. It’s important that Lawrence has a top-quality school system — for many reasons, foremost being the education offered to our students, but another is that it’s a key factor in business location decisions.

Is there a better way to achieve a top-quality school system than simply to pour more money into aging facilities? Is building a modern school for contemporary needs to serve East Lawrence now and into the future preferable? Is the bond issue, which appears to be throwing money at a variety of undefined problems, the best use of $92.5 million? Has the school board and district administration fully explored options that might produce a less predictable, traditional course?

Supporting the bond issue is the comfortable position to take, but the questions surrounding the manner in which the proposal was developed do not lend themselves to an enthusiastic endorsement.

If it passes, let’s hope that the expenditures prove to have been worth the money and that the ultimate beneficiaries are the students and the community. If it fails, let’s hope the next school board quickly can develop a substitute proposal undergirded by a clearly articulated statement concerning the plan for using the money — a statement that makes the bond issue more of a magnet for community support than “no tax increase” and “something for every school.”

Either way, let’s hope that the school experience in Lawrence produces pleasant memories for our students for years to come.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Let's get beyond the "buildings" chit chat. Let's move to another level. How about turning our energies toward means of updating the teacher pay scales? Let'a keep all of our teachers off food stamps....... and above poverty level. Let's get creative.

Yes to the bond issue.

Why not continue to make use of existing resources? It makes good sense. Most of the school buildings are not that old. New shiny buildings do not improve the quality of education it's the level of education coming out of the building that matters.

It make good sense to keep schools in neighborhoods thus promoting less vehicles on the road in favor or students walking or bicycling to school. Replacing older buildings on the same sites of existing buildings would work as well IF that is absolutely necessary.

I've read that school districts that have tried larger buildings with way more students are reverting back to the smaller building fewer students tried and true concept.

Updating our existing buildings makes good sense. However USD 497 needs a plan to maintain all of the taxpayers school buildings over the "demolition by neglect" attitudes of previous school boards. Taxpayers want our investments maintained properly and updated accordingly NOT ignored.

How about turning our energies toward means of updating the teacher pay scales? Let'a keep all of our teachers off food stamps....... and above poverty level. Let's get creative.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

1994 Sales tax revenue could help the public school district.

It's not a far-fetched idea, given Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall's written opinion that city or county governments in Kansas may legally use local retail sales tax revenue to finance capital improvements and operating budgets in public school districts. The catch is that all expenditures must be under the umbrella of "economic development."

Public policy question The city of Lawrence and Douglas County already collect the maximum sales tax 1 percent each allowed by state law. But it's possible that either of these governing bodies could reallocate a portion of existing sales tax revenue.

"It's a public policy," said Mike Wildgen, Lawrence city manager. "Commissions can change public policy over time."

In Stovall's opinion, city and county governments have home-rule powers that offer wide latitude in determining what constitutes "economic development." Governing bodies could declare that spending sales tax revenue to improve schools was an economic development initiative useful to attracting people or businesses.

Salina experiment The city of Salina and the Salina school district already have the type of cooperative deal Stovall believes is capable of withstanding legal challenge. In 1998, Salina voters approved the collection of a quarter-cent sales tax to support instructional technology programs in the school district.

Lawrence got into the sales-tax business in 1972 with voter passage of a half-cent sales tax. Another half-cent was approved in 1990. Both were designed to support police and fire departments and help contain property taxes.

When the school board made a push to gain voter approval of a bond issue to build Free State High School, the city and county agreed to reduce their mill levies to offset increases necessary to pay for the construction project.

"The mill levy was the same, but it had a higher percentage for the school district," Weinaug said. "It make it easier to adopt the bond issue."

Wildgen also said the city used sales tax revenue to build an indoor pool at Free State High School. The city also invested $200,000 in construction of an extra-large gym last year at Langston Hughes School for the purpose of supporting recreational programs such as soccer and basketball.

The city also has acquired park land most recently 40 acres in southeast Lawrence for a public park that reserves space for construction of a new school, he said.

Why did the previous BOE do this?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

What I meant to do was this.

Teacher Salary Support ( USD 497 user fee/supplies/ for academic purposes only)

Patricia Davis 5 years, 2 months ago

The school district has lot my confidence. I will not be voting on this bond. And I will not vote another any bond until the language is air tight that will prevent boards from circumventing the will of the voters. When you have proven yourself to be untrustworthy, it is very difficult to become trusted.

spiderd 5 years, 2 months ago

You refer to the previous school board members and are correct that there were some dubious folks running the show. However, I've been nothing but impressed with the current school board and they have my full confidence. The prior school board neglected the elementary schools for years, I'm glad to see that's being addressed.

youngjayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Vote NO and your taxes will go down = no brainer!

Marilyn Hull 5 years, 2 months ago

I find the arguments for the school bond to be plenty persuasive.

We say we want neighborhood schools. If we mean it, we have to keep investing in them.

We need to get schools wired--or wireless--so teachers can engage students in lots of different ways, depending on how they learn best.

And we've GOT TO provide career training for kids who aren't bound for 4-year degrees. Other Kansas districts put us to shame in this area.

I don't have kids in school anymore, but I think all of this is vital.

Centerville 5 years, 2 months ago

We need to take this opportunity to lower property taxes and help everyone regain some economic footing. Use more of the existing sales tax revenue to fund local ed, if you wish. At least every individual can decide whether or not to participate.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

There is no way for this money to go anywhere else but to the schools.....

New ways of teaching are coming on line = very smart move

Moving forward on the Vo-Tech aspect is welcome news.

This BOE is more than aware of the neglect to taxpayer owned properties that preceded them. A matter that is not being overlooked.

The Chamber has come out in favor.....

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

I was wary of voting for this bond issue, but I understand there will be a governing board that will make sure the money doesn't go to more fancy sport facilities, and instead will go to what it's suppose to go for. If there is any money left over, they should make sure that it goes to education facilities. They already have extremely good sports stadiums, and I think they should get alumni to donate for the maintenance of these facilities. Our tax dollars need to go toward all the kids, not just the sports players. All the money spent on the few is what America is becoming, but it doesn't make it right.

Bigdog66046 5 years, 2 months ago

If it wasn't for all the spending on the sports fields, we would have had the cash to maintain these buildings.By voting yes on this bond your telling them it was ok to spend 20 million + on the sports fields, and not maintain what we have, because all they have to do is ask and we will give them more. Enough is enough. Voting NO!!

Cauac 5 years, 2 months ago

Telling who is was okay? These are 7 different people. No one on this board voted for sports fields.

Bigdog66046 5 years, 2 months ago

several have stated in past articles they thought it was ok for the past people to do it. So they are all the same. Doesn't it seem a little funny the "amount" they need is the Maximum that they could possibly get. They can't even save anything when spending 92+ million. They can never have enough and will continue to spend spend spend. And your fooling yourself if you think they wont end up spending alot of money on other things. IF this passes!

IreneAdler84 5 years, 2 months ago

Your math is way off. Recent building costs for nearby elementary schools are in the neighborhood of 16-17 million. Even if you combined the costs of the two most expensive schools, you would be at close to a wash and then you would have to repair the rest of the schools.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

Why is it that the majority of the money is getting funneled into only 6 schools?

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

I did. Two of them. (Very poorly attended I might add) I also attended many of the task force and consolidation committee meetings and many MANY school board meetings. I am quite educated in the ways of this district. I put that question out on the table for others to ponder.

Pamela Shanks 5 years, 2 months ago

And why do we need to spend more on LFSHS than LHS?!! It is one of the newest schools in the district. Apparently, they don't know how to build schools that will pass the test of time. Amazing.

Melinda Toumi 5 years, 2 months ago

Are we sure that tobacco use causes cancer? Is global warming really happening at the hands of humans? Is evolution real?

Our dear editors' logic is the same of the tobacco lawyers and those that deny obvious & accepted scientific fact. Question something and then you've discredited it, RIGHT?

Um, no. Cordley has one working boys' bathroom. Fact. Lawrence has rejected the consolidation efforts of Doll et al. Fact. You may feel differently, but you would be in the minority. That's your right, but time to recognize that! This town has a majority that favors strong neighborhoods & local schools. Not every family can own two cars and drive to their 500 student elementary school at 8 and 3. Get real.

The Chamber publicly endorsed the bond March 1st. Business leaders will have a chance to put some of their own money where their mouths are - and maybe they'll get some influence in the location of expanded vo-tech education buildings. Minor detail.

What is disgusting to me is that some of my fellow Lawrence residents would really rather have crumbling schools (which decreases future employment opportunities, decreases home values) just to save $120/year on their property taxes. Maybe you aren't in a financial situation to BE a homeowner if that $120 is really going to break you. When I write that check every December at the court house, it's a duty that I carry out with pride.

26% of LHS/FSHS graduates go directly into the work force... with what skills? It's a really big deal that the Board of Regents approved these expanded technical educational opportunities for our students, and what a loss to our community if we don't act now, when the time is right.

Think of the families that will come off of Medicaid and food stamps because Dad gets a new construction job - and YES, the school board is committed to keeping these jobs local. That's worth more than $120/year to me!

If this isn't more reason to invest in education, then I don't know what is: Please do not "assure" i.e. make the quality education feel nice, please ENSURE quality education by voting YES on Question 1 April 2nd.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

They went over the top. They did not need to spend right up to the 92.5 million mark. Take it back to the drawing board when it fails and come up with something reasonable.

buffalo63 5 years, 2 months ago

The very end of the bond question, "and make all other necessary and related improvements in the District...", which means all the plans drawn, all the tech equipment, all the Voc-ed money could be spent some other necessary and related way. That probably won't happen, but people thought that last bond issue. Reason the District has to be very transparent with how the money is used, if the bond passes.

IreneAdler84 5 years, 2 months ago

And why would the members of the current school board want the money to go anywhere else? I get that people felt burned by the sports stadiums, but those were entirely different people.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Why not strike that clause then, if the money is to be spent on specific items?

I am also wary, given the last bond issue, and would be happier if there wasn't a vague clause like this one in the proposal.

IreneAdler84 5 years, 2 months ago

When you put together a bond, you set the amount of the bond based on estimates for the work that you plan to do. Then, because the work will be done over a period of 3-4 years, you have to build in a buffer against inflation (in this case I think Doll said it is 6%), because the last thing you want to do is be caught short and unable to pay for the work that you want to do. But, this is always a guessing game and you might come in under budget, and have extra money. Thus, you have to write the bond-the scope of work, with that contingency in mind. Doll said that if this happened, they would hold community forums to decide what to do with the extra money.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

I'd much prefer it if they simply returned the money to taxpayers if they don't need it.

Either way, you don't need a vague clause like "necessary and related improvements" if the bond is supposed to be used for specific items.

That's clearly something that would allow them to use the money for other things that we may not have voted for - just like the "capital improvement" bonds were used for athletic fields, not what I voted for.

And, I wouldn't trust what somebody says, when there's written stuff - written contracts always win over verbal ones.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

The. Bond. Issue. Includes. A. Clause. That. Can. Be. Used. For. Anything. They. Like.

And, as I said, written contracts trump oral ones, so any promises made aren't enforceable given that clause.

"Necessary and related" is too broad for my taste.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Trust is earned, not given. What have they done to earn my trust?

Why include overly broad language if it's not necessary, especially given the history we're discussing? Remove it, and I'd be happier, and might vote for the bond, although other issues have been brought up by posters here that I'm considering as well.

And, as I've continually mentioned, written contracts trump any verbal guarantees or promises, so those are essentially worthless.

The 2005 bond could have been spent on other "capital improvements", but they chose to spend it on athletic fields. If the language had been more specific, that wouldn't have been possible.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

So, you trust their word, even though there's a clause in the written contract that allows them much too much leeway.

I think that's quite naive.

Why don't you understand that legally, oral promises aren't binding if there's a written contract? If they're serious about not acting as the other board did, then they should remove overly vague clauses from the bond issue. That would go someways towards earning my trust.

Talk is cheap.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago


Don't complain if they wind up spending a bunch of money on things you don't really want them to spend it on, based on the overly vague wording in the issue.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

And I will probably vote against it if they don't remove that wording (which there's no reason not to remove if they're serious about not using it).

IreneAdler84 5 years, 1 month ago

It is naive to think that language can be removed at this point; early voting has already started. Vote no and feel good about the "pound of flesh" you are getting from these kids. And feel free to have the last word.

jafs 5 years, 1 month ago

Not my fault, they should have removed it sooner then, if that's true.

I resent your tone - we pay half of our property taxes to the school system, and we don't complain, even though we don't have children in public school and almost certainly never will. I voted for the "capital improvement" bond gladly. I support public education, and oppose attempts by Brownback et al to underfund it.

If proponents can't see the obvious problems with vague wording in bond issues like this, that's their blindness, and accusing those who oppose that of being anti-education is the worst kind of ad hominem nonsense.

buffalo63 5 years, 2 months ago

If my memory pills are working, I remember the $2 million "saved" from the last bond issue was "spent" or at least cited as justification, to build a locker room at LHS, improvements at Central and building the athletic fields. This was over a two or three year period.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 2 months ago

I still want my "pound of flesh" for building those stadiums (needed as they where) without telling us. So I will be voting no.

Plus spending $96M on buildings is odd when the state will give us less money per student with Brownback being in office 6 more years. Also, let's not forget Lawrence as a whole is not growing, and soon the lower US birth rates since the Great Rescission kicks in.

Cauac 5 years, 2 months ago

I hope you will not deny children upgraded buildings because of what the previous board did. Not the current board, the previous board. We have children going to class in unsafe portables, and they deserve real classrooms. The bond is not 96 mil and school enrollments are in fact increasing. Even if Brownback gives education less money, kids still need a place to go to class, and should have 21st century facilities, not the mid 20th century facilities they have now.

Bigdog66046 5 years, 2 months ago

How has this current board helped?? Guessing not much if kids are going to school in unsafe portables. And was this the case before they moved the school grades around? Maybe planning ahead and getting the buildings before overcrowding some, then begging for more money to spend. BUDGET!! Something we have to have, guess school district doesn't need to follow one!

Cauac 5 years, 2 months ago

Some of the portables have been around for 20 years, and this board is the first to try to get rid of them. But you cannot just take them away, they need to be replaced, which costs money. You can vote no, and if the bond does not pass then kids will continue to go to school in portables. The bond is planning ahead and based on growth projections for down the road.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

Um, they still own THREE elementary school buildings. They could easily reopen those and redistribute kids. That way they don't use portables OR need all of the 92.5 Million dollars to add new classrooms, making our small neighborhood schools all large 3 section schools. Why???

aryastark1984 5 years, 2 months ago

I would be curious about the response to your question. What did Doll say when you asked that specific question?

IreneAdler84 5 years, 2 months ago

Not sure what you mean about moving grades around. If you mean moving 6th grade to middle school, that move now seems wise in retrospect, at least with respect to overcrowding. If 6th grade had not been moved, these schools would be bursting at the seams-even more than they are now. And all day Kindergarten was added to Langston Hughes, Quail Run, and Deerfield. The schools that have the portables have had all-day kindergarten for years (with the exception of Sunflower).

So, neither of these decisions had any impact on the need for portables.

But, that isn't really the point. The point is that portables have to go. 1) They are far less secure than a classroom in a main building 2) There is significant sound bleed through, from one classroom to the next, making it harder for students to concentrate. 3) They are far less energy efficient than HVAC in the main building of the rest of the schools.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

And the same year they 'moved kids around' was the same year they closed Wakarusa Valley and started all-day kindergarten everywhere. How short-sighted was that? If you knew your decision to close a school was going to force the use of more portables in the district, why would you do it? And there is also significant sound bleed through in those poor excuse for classrooms at Broken Arrow (renovated open concept) but no one cares about that.

IreneAdler84 5 years, 2 months ago

I would like to point out that this paper endorsed Brownback and is now surprised by the nut job policies coming out of Topeka. So, their track record is not exactly credible.

IreneAdler84 5 years, 2 months ago

True, but so what. This editorial really pissed me off. My kid goes to school in a portable and has 15 minutes to eat lunch because the cafeteria is also the gym and there aren't enough hours of the school day to fit everything in one room. So, yeah. I am kind of invested in this process and I have taken the time to educate myself about the bond. And, quite frankly I am also heartsick that there are people in this community that would punish children for the sins of a group of people that no longer have decision making authority.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

It really isn't about punishing children for the sins of a group of people. It's about making a statement about what the people of Lawrence want. When all the hulabaloo was going on with the task force and school closure everyone said we want small neighborhood schools. We said we didn't want any more consolidation. Fine, but what this bond does is increase all 6 'core schools' to 3 sections (except maybe NY, which barely on it's best day pulls off a 1 section school). How is that keeping to the philosophy of the small neighborhood school? Is it just that your school gets to stay open and get's improvements so that makes it better for everyone? No, it makes it better for you. What about the expected growth on the west side? All those new classrooms in Sunset Hill are being added so they can start busing the current Quail Run and Langston Hughes kids to SH, while the new enrollees to the west get LH. Is that fair to the west side kids? They no longer get to go to their community school but get bused to the middle of town. Notice that Woodlawn is not getting a bunch of new classrooms. I wonder how long it will take for them to be closed and bused into New York to fill up another one of our all important central and east side schools? They are pretty far out there and history seems to show this district would much prefer to shut down those on the wrong side of the river.

aryastark1984 5 years, 2 months ago

Those decisions are made by the school board, not by Doll. So, the lesson here is to vote for people school board candidates who are not in favor of closing schools.

I am not sure what you want to see happen here. Are you suggesting that we build another school in the core to accommodate the increased enrollment. One of the problems that the working group encountered is that no one could figure out where to put the new school. We have a pretty dense city center and unless you want to start using imminent domain or spending a whole other chunk of money to buy someone out that really doesn't want to sell, then you are out of luck. Schools actually require a lot of land.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

NO, my goodness no. Do not build more schools in the middle of town. I never suggested that. For goodness sake, you've got Centennial and East Heights at your disposal. Use them if you need them.

William Ed 5 years, 2 months ago

Having looked at Cheeseburgers numbers, anyone looking at the allocation of funds for the schools, sees a mismatch, probably caused by myopia. With 4 schools having over $8 million being spent on them, two more getting close to $6 million, and the rest get half as much or less. The major expenditures are in the center of Lawrence. This looks a lot like consolidation, with Sunset Hill receiving 10% of the total bond funds. When asked why the expenditures were this way and existing facilities were not used instead, ie Centennial, East Heights, and Wakarusa, the answer given is that they were just not in the right place. So why is Sunset Hill in the "right place?" The reason, it is to be virtually doubled in size to accommodate more kids from Quail Run, by changing the school's boundary. Strange that they couldn't change boundaries to allow the use of the three unused facilites, at almost no cost. Well the reason must be that they want to relieve the overcrowding at Langston Hughes. This of course would require changing that school's boundaries. I guess when they change those two schools' boundaries they won't call it boundary changing they, will call it redistribution. HMMM Why was the virtual school left out of the bond largess. Because it didn't need any environmental improvement or technological upgrades? HMMM

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

NICE! Spot On! They're not making any improvements to the other three buildings they own, so they can virtually ensure they will never be reopened as elementary schools.

Clevercowgirl 5 years, 2 months ago

Why are we expanding the Core Schools? Are we expecting a large number of families to flock to the existing neighborhoods? I recall that the district was all for closing some of these schools, in the name of efficiency, due to, in part the demographic of fewer young families in these areas. This may be a new board, but Dr. Doll is still in charge of this three ring circus. This budget panders to the core area of Lawrence, in order to get their votes. The only real growth may happen on the western edge of town. Maintain Core schools...of course. Expand Core schools..ridiculous. Give the school district 92.5 million in discretionary funds...Insane.

Mike Myers 5 years, 2 months ago

It isn't an issue of expansion as much an issue of building real classrooms instead of using trailers for several of the schools. And there is actually growth in the core area and more projected growth to come. There has been demographic research done on this by a paid consultant.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

Clevercowgirl ---Your post...Priceless!

Clevercowgirl 5 years, 2 months ago

Sorry Toto, according to the U.S. Census, Lawrence is not growing. Furthermore, I see no place in which substantial growth to the core could occur. Why build new facilities, when a simple set of boundary changes would solve any pockets of overcrowding?

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

Um, sorry PFC, the drawings show they are building an ADDITIONAL 9 classrooms onto Sunset Hill ABOVE and beyond portable replacement. That is bigger than New York's enrollment now. So, yes, in a way they are building new facilities. Enrollment went up by about 200 last year, the majority of which were VIRTUAL students by the way. Anyway, the expected increase is on the west side not in the center of town.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

I thought I was clear. 'In a way' they are building new facilities because the number of classrooms they are adding is equivalent to the size of some of our current facilities. As I stated before I did attend (2) bond presentation meetings. Didn't you see me? Check out the drawings available on the website. They are informative when they are not unclear.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

Wow, you've got my motivations all figured out! Yet, you are confused. Let me guess, do your children attend one of the six core schools? I've got several children in the district. Why would I want to 'take that out' on my own children? Patently absurd. I'm merely saying they need to rewrite the bond to something more realistic and fiscally responsible, then I'll vote for it.
By the way, Vanessa Sanburn marched in the SONS rally, yet she DID vote for closure, as did current board members, Bob Byers, and Mark Bradford, just to keep to the facts. But you are correct, the kids did not vote.

aryastark1984 5 years, 2 months ago

Another way of saying "in a way" is "not the same."

Steve Jacob 5 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence is not added residents, just shifting to the west, so not closing schools is another reason I am voting no.

aryastark1984 5 years, 2 months ago

Except that you are wrong. Growth is not moving west, at least not yet. Current growth and growth projections show larger numbers of kids in the city core.

GMom05 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, 200 new students last year. But according to the district newsletter that came out this week, less than fifty were students attending brick-and-mortar schools. The other 150 were Virtual School students. Is that building getting technology upgrades I wonder?

Mike Myers 5 years, 2 months ago

I should have used the term demographic shift rather than growth. The issue is about increased enrollement in these schools. There is data, check the USD website.

Mike Myers 5 years, 2 months ago

Have you heard of the term demographic shift? Check the data.

Clevercowgirl 5 years, 2 months ago

PFC you don't know who GMom is, so can you say whether she was at a meeting or not? PFC could be Paramedic Fire Chief. Who knows, and, more importantly, who cares. I have no doubt that GMom is operating on the information provided by the district. Surely, that would all be true (dripping sarcasm).

aryastark1984 5 years, 2 months ago

Ok. So lets correct a few things that are just plain wrong.

1) The enrollment is growing in the district. The school board paid a consulting firm to do growth projections based on census data and they project growth BOTH in the city's core and maybe in the future out West. The funny thing was that at the time, the "close school" crowd was hoping to show us East side folks that we were wrong and that enrollment was decreasing,especially on the East side. Instead what they found is that increased enrollment trends were projected to continue. Enrollment is currently up by more than 200 kids since 2008. That is the size of a small school. You don't close/consolidate schools when you are growing. Smart organizations change their plans when circumstances change. It is only a fool that believes on Wed, what he believed on Monday, in spite of what happened on Tuesday.

2) If you went to any of the bond presentations, you would know that adding on to Sunset Hill is a thoughtful decision that is designed to delay the need to add another school out West. And yes, the idea would be to make small boundary changes to Langston Hughes, Quail Run, and Deerfield to make this happen. However, the idea would be to do "graduated changes" so that it would only affect new kids, not kids that are already in a school.

3) New York is now almost entirely a 2 section school, with a large kindergarten class this year.

4) The school closure brigade was lead by Scott Morgan, with gleeful input from Mary Loveland, and Rich Minder (as long as NY wasn't closed). School board sets policy and Doll serves at the pleasure of the school board. The current board and all the people running for the board are not in favor of school closure. Make no mistake, Doll would like to keep his job.

Steve Jacob 5 years, 2 months ago

I seem to remember the paid consultant was already off of this years numbers.

aryastark1984 5 years, 2 months ago

Not in total numbers and the sight differences between schools are because the district has a tacit "school choice" policy.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

I am behind the security, technology, and Vo-Tech improvements ($12.5 M). I marched in the SONS rally. I am behind the concept of the small neighborhood schools and repairing all the deferred maintenance our prior boards did not see as necessary. But, I will vote NO for a bond that takes nearly 60% of $80 million and gives it to only 6 schools. I will vote NO for a bond that doesn't make the same improvements to all the buildings it owns, ensuring they will soon crumble, rather than responsibly protecting the real estate we own. I will vote NO for a bond that drastically increases the size of our small neighborhood schools and sets us up in the future for further consolidation (read there will always be another BOE). Look folks, you CAN vote NO. It's not like they'll close your school! When it fails, the board and Dr. Doll will be forced to go back to the drawing board and present us with a reasonable bond. You can still have your needs met, just without the poor precedent. Just say yes to fiscal responsibility and keeping our small neighborhood schools small.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

All schools in the district will receive improvements.

Basically it looks this way.

Facilities = rehab and maintenance where necessary Technology - to all schools in the district $6-$7 million $$$$$ Career Building Vo-Tech Training

Blended Learning requires new technology for all facilities. This application is long over due and will free up teaching staff time to devote to students that require more attention. While at the same time allows those more advanced learners to move ahead at their own pace. Money for this new technology is being applied to all schools in the district.

I have been assured by a 4 BOE members and Dr Doll this very Monday morning that all of the bond money will be applied to "academics" and none to sports facilities.

No building is being ignored.

How many want the the school district to pay $23,000 per acre or more for a new building site? That would be absurd. $1,000 - $2,000 per acre would be fair.

Clevercowgirl 5 years, 2 months ago

C'mon everyone. Drink the Koolaide. The School Board and Dr. Doll know what's best for our children and all of us. Never mind that our children will be paying for this bond one day, 30 million in interest is reasonable .

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

The key for the future I say is to make sure the USD 497 BOE spends the annual capital improvement dollars that comes from property taxes on maintaining taxpayer owned properties as we go instead of blowing the maintenance off.

In hopes of suckering taxpayers into a wasteful concept of bulldozing taxpayer owned buildings and paying outrageous amounts of money to local developers for land in order for developers to have a public school in THEIR NEW neighborhoods. That BTW which increases the values of THEIR NEW neighborhoods. This type of nonsense must cease for it is NOT in the best interest of the taxpayers.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Why not continue to make use of existing resources? It makes good sense. Most of the school buildings are not that old. New shiny buildings do not improve the quality of education it's the level of education coming out of the building that matters.

It make good sense to keep schools in neighborhoods thus promoting less vehicles on the road in favor or students walking or bicycling to school.

Replacing older buildings on the same sites of existing buildings would work as well IF that is absolutely necessary.

LadyJ 5 years, 1 month ago

Could I just point out that while the present school board would honor their word, it does not mean the school board elected 10 years from now would. That's how we got into this mess with the athletic fields and the city's rec center. Just like the city commission back in the 90's did not intend for the city to spend $25 million x 2 on a rec center.

IreneAdler84 5 years, 1 month ago

What is up with the helplessness? There is a simple way control who gets on the school board, VOTE! Or, better yet -run for the school board yourself.

IreneAdler84 5 years, 1 month ago

I would like to take this opportunity to point out how deeply out of touch this paper is with the city it serves.

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