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Archive for Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Public airs questions over $92.5 million school bond issue

March 26, 2013

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Supporters of the Lawrence school district's proposed $92.5 million bond issue said Tuesday that it would equip local teachers and schools for 21st century education while providing a boost to the local economy.

But a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative, free-market oriented political action group said the bond proposal is poorly thought out and suggested district officials to go back to the drawing board and come up with a different plan.

"If you look at the Chamber of Commerce, and lot of people that I talk to in the coffee shops across town can't understand why we need this new bond issue when the kids that are coming out can't read," said AFP coordinator Jim Mullins. "And I concur with them."

But school board member Rick Ingram fired back, saying: "Number one, our kids can read. And number two, the Chamber of Commerce has endorsed this bond."

Those comments came during a town hall meeting about the bond proposal. The forum was sponsored by the Voter Education Coalition, a nonpartisan coalition of more than a dozen Lawrence-area businesses and organizations that promotes voter participation by holding community forums.

If approved, about $80 million would be used to improve the district's 14 elementary schools, with most of that used for upgrading and expanding the six older schools in central and east Lawrence to bring them up to the same standards as the newer schools.

Another $6.5 million would be used for technology enhancements throughout the district, and $5.7 million to expand career and technical education offered at the district's Holcom facility.

Several questions from the public focused on why the district is now proposing to upgrade and modernize all 14 elementary schools instead of the original plan to close and consolidate some of the older schools.

"The reality is, enrollment is increasing," Ingram said. "This is not the time you want to start closing or consolidating schools."

Ingram said consolidating schools would still require a large construction project to expand one building, or build an entirely new one, but other buildings would still need expansions to allow for projected growth. And in the end, he said, it would not result in significant cost savings.

But Mullins disagreed, calling it "disingenuous" to say the district couldn't figure out a way to make consolidation work.

"Lawrence is better than that," he said. "We could do that if we wanted to."

Voters in the Lawrence district will decide on the bond proposal in Tuesday's election. Voters will also elect three members of the Lawrence school board as well as three members of the Lawrence City Commission.

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  • Comments

    Norm Jennings 1 year ago

    Sweet! I was actually having trouble deciding. Now that I know that Gov Brown-shirts cronies are against it; I know I'm for it!

    0

    jesse499 1 year ago

    Why is it that the only way a kid can get a good education now days is if they close his school down the street and bus him to a brand new building somewhere else.

    1

    tob6in 1 year ago

    I read these comments but never post. But this is crazy! Anyone can see that the BOE just ran the bill all the way up to 92.5 Million, because that's how far you could go before it becomes a Tax-Increase Bond. It does not mean that the scope of work is Necessary. What will we do when we need money to pay the teachers in these enlarged buildings and they have to come to us for more money for a General Fund Bond? If they had been told they could only go to 75M, then that's where it would sit, but what would be left out? That which is Not necessary. That much newly built additional capacity in the district makes no sense when you still own three elementary buildings. Go back to the drawing board and write up something that makes financial sense, now and in the future, and then the rest of us will vote for it.

    1

    GMom05 1 year ago

    You assume that the only problem people have is they don't trust the Prior board. You're completely missing the fact that many people feel this Current board is the one that came up with a faulty bond and it is the Current board that will execute it. 3 open spots and 4 candidates. The only thing we know for sure is Bradford won't be back. Quite possibly we'll end up with the exact same board with the exception of one new person. How does that change anything?

    0

    workinghard 1 year ago

    The sad fact is, while the current school board has good intentions for the money if the bond passes, they will not always be the ones in control of the money. All it takes is a new school board with a new focus. This is how we ended up with the money used on athletic fields instead of repairing elementary schools.

    2

    getajob 1 year ago

    Great! All kids will get I Pads instead of text books, paper & pencils... Now they can text and play on Facebook all day and the teachers can't say anything about it.. It's their new text pads! Entitlements for school children. Smart!

    0

    homechanger 1 year ago

    All of the problems with substandard buildings existed while the district was building the two brand new sports facilities for both high schools. Why were we not worried about the condition of our school buildings then?

    4

    toe 1 year ago

    All ready passed. The vote is a formality. All the government workers vote in all tax increases and new taxes. Topeka has figured out Lawrence and the big squeeze is underway.

    0

    Kansas_Girl 1 year ago

    What happens if the bond passes and the legislature cuts funding or shifts funding to a local level. Will our borrowing capacity be maxed out or restrict us from raising the operating funds needed. I see this as restricting our ability to react to a very uncertain future in this political climate.

    2

    Floyd Craig 1 year ago

    realquestion is wjhos getting the kick back well like they have their hand out n getting a kick back ? theres gotta be a catch to it some where n it sure sounds like some one is getting paid to do this use thqat n`money for the kids who don't have money to eat luch with use it for them gees millions to do the well you guys are so stupid or greedie

    0

    Floyd Craig 1 year ago

    realquestion is wjhos getting the kick back well like they have their hand out n getting a kick back ? theres gotta be a catch to it some where n it sure sounds like some one is getting paid to do this

    0

    Richard Heckler 1 year ago

    A Community Plan Using data from a comprehensive facilities evaluation and external technology audit, and incorporating extensive community study and input, the Lawrence Board of Education has developed a plan that provides neighborhood schools, touches every school in the district and addresses excellence and equity goals. http://www.usd497.org/bondissueplanning/overview

    The heart of the plan brings elementary schools, especially older facilities in central and east Lawrence, up to current standards. http://www.usd497.org/bondissueplanning/overview

    Read more about how this $92.5 million proposal:

    Improves School Facilities - $80.3 million.

    Enhances Technology Districtwide - $6.5 million.

    Expands Career and Technical Education Opportunities - $5.7 million. http://www.usd497.org/bondissueplanning/overview

    Watch & Share this Bond Video. KS School Bond Elections, 2008-2012 The April 2 Ballot Question "Shall the following be adopted? http://www.usd497.org/bondissueplanning/overview

    Shall Unified School District No. 497, Douglas County, Kansas (Lawrence), issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $92,500,000 to pay the costs to construct additions to and renovate, improve technology infrastructure, equip and furnish existing elementary and secondary schools; construct, equip and furnish a new career and technology education facility and make all other necessary and related improvements in the District; all pursuant to the provisions of K.S.A 10-101 et seq.; K.S.A. 25-2018 (f); and K.S.A. 72-6761?" http://www.usd497.org/bondissueplanning/overview

    1

    Bigdog66046 1 year ago

    Doesn't anyone see that if they let the schools fall apart then everyone will want to vote for this. Lets get rid of any and all leaders,school board, and staff that cant take care of our schools now. Instead of giving them 92+ millions to blow like they have been to all the rest of the money. Nothing ANY school board says can be trusted. They always put things so vague so they can change and do what ever they want to do with this money. The remodeled the kitchen in Centennial while it was still the "virtual" school. Then after closing walkarusa, they "suddenly" realized they could move the child first program to centennial and other stuff to walkarusa to make way for the sports fields. Just lucky that brand new kitchen was there. They have plans for how they will spend all this money, they just wont tell us what they truly are!

    2

    jonnyboy 1 year ago

    The last couple of years I have actually LOOKED at my property tax breakdown and been shocked at how much of it goes to the schools.

    I want good education, but I can't afford it any more.

    If I knew we were able to keep great teachers, like Ms. Bear, the former band director at Free State, I'd be willing to spend the money.....but even then.....my property taxes are TOO high!!!!!!!!

    0

    William Ed 1 year ago

    They should have spent a small part of the $30 Million unencumbered funds they have on their books to fix Cordley right now. We don't need to be held ransom fo $92.5 Million for 25 years.

    4

    Clark Coan 1 year ago

    I was going to vote against it because $92 million is a lot of money and state-of-the-art facilities don't really result in better education (think one-room schoolhouses). But if the bond issue results in keeping our neighborhood schools open longer, then I am for it. Small schools are better for learning and using the Walking Bus program, kids can walk safely to a neighborhood school.

    0

    Ichegoya 1 year ago

    At Cordley, there is a huge hole in the ceiling with trash bags directing what I assume to be a water leak into a giant trash container. My daughter walks by it every day. Been there for weeks.

    I'll pay for a bond issue, damn right. It's tragic, the state of education in this country.

    0

    jafs 1 year ago

    I have a couple of questions.

    If this doesn't pass, will our property taxes go down? If it passes, will they go up?

    If it doesn't pass, will the board be able to easily rewrite it and submit it again soon, or will they have to wait until the next election of some sort?

    0

    GMom05 1 year ago

    Why was an extremist like Mullins brought in for the Town Hall Meeting, essentially to represent the No vote of the thoughtful and inquiring people of Lawrence? I guess we were just looking for a spark to a big debate. Not a good choice.

    3

    Hooligan_016 1 year ago

    Good lord, AFP? Really? And of all people, Jim Mullins; the same ** who is an Agenda 21 nutter.

    2

    Mike Myers 1 year ago

    The forum was very good and informational. For the most part, with two exceptions...the Americans for "Prosperity" guy didn't know what the heck he was talking about. His ideas were not well founded and not based on any research or homework on his part. He brought some "data" that was intended to show our schools are "failing" and our kids can't read. His data actually showed that well over half of our kids can read and comprehend at the exemplary level. When confronted with real data all he could say was "well you're wrong".

    Typical of the AFP (Koch Brothers) group, they try to twist real numbers with words in a way to befuddle and confound in order to promote their agenda which is generally regressive taxing or pushing the majority of the tax burden on the middle class and poor. He came off as a real nice grandfatherly guy who loves schools and loves teachers, he just doesn't want to pay for them.

    The only two things he said that I agreed with are:

    1. He said that teachers aren't paid enough! Well said! Perhaps he can lobby the governor to meet his oblications for school funding so we can give the teachers raises and hire some specialists! Go Jim!
    2. He said that the proposed technical education center to be funded by the bond was a "great idea" . Well said Jim!

    I'm voting for this bond for strong schools, smart kids, strong neighborhoods, jobs, and property values.

    3

    Hadley_says 1 year ago

    Jim Mullins said the people of Lawrence opposed the transportation tax.

    Jim Mullins said the people of Lawrence opposed the Library.

    Jim Mullins says lots of things which are utterly false.

    What he doesn't say is that his paycheck is underwritten by the lobbying organization (Americans for Prosperity) controlled by the richest, and most secret, Kansas private business.....Koch.

    Jim Mullins, Dave Trabert, Art Hall, the KANSAS chamber of commerce and others are just peas in a pod.

    5

    toe 1 year ago

    The local Chamber of Commerce is the enemy of the taxpayer in Lawrence. They endorse all things that put money in their pocket at the expense of the average man. Hiding behind kids that cannot read to line their pockets with graft. The bond issue will pass because government workers are too well compensated in Lawrence. The State and Federal government is starting to shrink and the squeeze is on. But, it will take time for the privileged government workers to feel the pinch. In the mean time, the party continues.

    1

    Richard Heckler 1 year ago

    The real estate industry builds new neighborhoods for the sake of making money not out of the warmness of their hearts. No more and more traffic,roads,sewer lines etc etc do not improve the quality of life in Lawrence,Kansas. GET REAL!

    I would bet if building more and more neighborhoods was put to a vote it would receive a resounding NO THANK YOU.

    There is one consequence of helter skelter aimless growth that usually goes unmentioned by the local media,city hall and elected officials - local profiteers are draining our pocketbooks and raising our taxes.

    NOT necessary city growth is the result of over several decades of subsidies paid for by the WE the local taxpayer.

    1

    Richard Heckler 1 year ago

    If children can't read that problem begins in the home not in the classroom. Jim Mullins get your facts straight.

    Smaller classes and neighborhood schools are still the best bang for the tax buck. That's why Langston Hughes was built as a neighborhood school. Those parents want their children walking and bicycling to school and the most productive learning environment.

    Deerfield has never been on the chopping block because those parents want the best learning environment for their children. Parents whose children attend any of the schools being painted as evil also want the best learning environment for their children.

    If the district decided to bulldoze school buildings then the district would find itself paying wayyyyy too much money for new land = reckless spending. Land in Lawrence,Kansas is no bargain.

    Developers should be setting land aside in THEIR new neighborhoods. The school district should not be in the business of buying real estate certainly NOT from developers. Public schools and public parks make the new neighborhoods worth a ton more money to the real estate industry.

    Historically the revenues generated by new residential housing does not pay for the many services they require from a municipality.

    2

    OzD 1 year ago

    Sounds like Jim Mullins knows a thing or two about getting a bad education. Maybe he should have interviewed some local high school students while at some of the coffee shops around town to see how their literacy skills are coming along.

    1

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