Archive for Saturday, March 30, 2013

Letter: Weak opposition

March 30, 2013


To the editor:

Though involved in the bond planning as a consultant, I write this as a parent and community member. In my opinion, Tuesday night’s school bond town hall meeting failed to present equally thoughtful arguments on both sides of the issue. One side was an argument supporting a thorough plan moving Lawrence schools forward. The other an ad hoc argument voiced on behalf of Americans for Prosperity, apparently formulated to misdirect, with little understanding of the bond process or details.

For example, the opposition’s appeal to increase teacher pay tapped into a common school funding misperception — that capital/bond dollars could be used for payroll, something state law prohibits. Its appeal for consolidation ignored three years of intensive analysis from two community groups, professional consultants, board members and district administration. Our community rejected consolidation because it’s not feasible due to cost, logistics, projected population growth and Lawrence’s commitment to our neighborhood schools. Consolidation would negatively impact our schools’ primary mission — education.

If Americans for Prosperity were really interested in improving student outcomes, it would recognize the bond improves classroom environments, allows teachers to teach the way kids really learn and supports the district’s robust, strategic education goals.

To those considering voting no, please don’t. Your “no” vote won’t hurt an abstract entity known as the “district.” It will hurt people you see every day: our kids, teachers, homeowners, business owners, all of us. As the opposition stated, Lawrence is better than that. That’s why I hope you’ll join me and others voting “yes” on April 2.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

When economic times get rough people seek to better themselves with additional education. Making available the most productive environment is a smart choice.

We know economic times can get rough so why not prepare our children for these times by teaching them to think by providing the most productive environment.

It's a known given that new industry examines local educational opportunities so let's NOT allow USD 497 to slip down toward Brownback levels.

Breaking ground that will allow our young students to learn at their own paces is a long over due concept. Bring it on!

This argument about killing educational opportunities will reduce our taxes is at best questionable. Lawrence can not indulge in another 10-15 years of negligence regarding USD 497 taxpayer owned properties...... this would reckless beyond belief.

Should the bond fail the rehab must move forward at a slower pace and maybe a property tax increase that would be short term however getting the same objectives completed. This might be a plan B scenario that would be wise NOT to encounter.

Robert Schehrer 5 years, 2 months ago

Yes, you are correct that funds in the Capital Outlay Fund cannot be used for teachers salaries. They can and should have been used to do the type of school improvements that are now being proposed to do with a $92.5 miilion bond issue. Instead, the school district used the funds in the Capital Outlay Fund and borrowed more to build two new sports stadiums. Surely they knew the need for school building improvements when they made that decision.

I feel deceived.

GardenMomma 5 years, 2 months ago

Yes, I too, feel deceived which is why I voted those board members out in the last election! There is another school board election coming up too. You can be sure I will remember who voted for "deception" when it comes time to re-elect (or not) those incumbent board members. I hope you do too.

In the meantime, voting to improve those neglected schools now is the right thing to do. Complaining about "squandered" funds in the past doesn't change the fact that the elementary schools still need repairs. Don't take that away again or you'll be just as bad as those that did by building sports stadiums.

grimpeur 5 years, 2 months ago

Exactly. And then the "Yes" campaign spokesman comes out and sets up district residents without kids as the scapegoats in case the bond fails.

It's not childless district taxpayers who might sink it. It's the recent skewed priorities, lack of forthrightness, and apparent tunnel vision of stadium mongers who took over the last bond with their monuments to themselves, along with the public's memory of that still-half-baked fiasco. To state, as many have, that "that was a different school board" is to ignore that fact that our money was wasted in a shady end run and that those board members will never be held responsible.

The board should have known that our schools needed (and would continue to need) maintenance. If they didn't realize this, then they were unqualified or incompetent to make multi-million dollar decisions. If they did, and built the stadiums anyway, that's even worse. Public perception of events leans toward the latter.

I will be voting for the bond. But I'm angry that the "Yes" campaign has found it fitting to alienate childless voters who have been steadfast in their support of the schools, and that they refuse to acknowledge the real problems with the last bond and with the board's behavior.

jubilee 5 years, 2 months ago

 $80 million to renovate old school buildings?  How much will that cost in maintenance over the years?  The School Board never did cost comparisons (or never shared) for operational expenses of a new school building vs renovated buildings.  Anyone who owns an "older home" knows that the upkeep is far more expensive.  Rather than doing the cost comparison, the School Board functioned as a special interest Save Our Neighborhood Schools group and scrapped the planned laid out by the previous School Board.  However, they did acknowledge that a new, state-of-the-art school building would be about $15 million---compared with $10 million renovations to one school and $8 million renovation to another school.

Further to this, the money from the bond issue is spent at the discretion of the School Board.  This means, that although certain amounts are slated for different projects, when there are cost overruns, that money can be taken from a different project.  So, the $13 million for upgrades to Free State, Lawrence High School, etc., may be taken and used for the renovations (or anything else within the scope of this board proposal), if the Board says  so.  Given the history of the Lawrence School Boards generally, and this Board in particular (simply changing their mandate after election and their misleading advertising on the cost), they have not earned my trust for the use of $92.3 million.

Vote No and start over on an efficient plan the considers ALL the costs associated with the buildings.

ReadingSports 5 years, 2 months ago

I've posted in other topics about this issue. But I feel strongly that the district wastes money. Please see some of my other postings.

I was initially for this bond issue, but seeing how much time the school has spent on information sessions, and talking with some teachers, I will vote against this bond issue, and I encourage everyone else to do the same.


ReadingSports 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's my other post.

Oh my gosh: Koch mouthpieces. Devils and usurpers. Whatever.

It's actually really easy to see other posts on this site. Just click on the name.

No actually I'm not going to tell what teachers I talked to. Because the district would retaliate against them. I'm not even going to say who I am, because I have students in the district and the district would retaliate against them. No doubt you would like to facilitate those actions.

ReadingSports 5 years, 2 months ago

Koch, AFP etc. This is an Ad hominem argument.. As such it is invalid and shows intellectual sloppiness on your part. Although, you are free to make it. For my own part I think for myself and I don't care who is making the argument. Until they start casting dispersions on arguments because of who is making them.

I smell a rat with this bond issue. This letter is an example, this letter was written by someone that stands to profit from the bond issue. Surely you realize that.

And you're more interested in how many teachers I spoke to because you're more interested in who is making the argument not whether or not it is correct. I did summarize my thinking. You just don't accept it because, "I'm a naughty little Koch puppet."

The district is wasting money left and right. And this bond issue won't make any difference in student performance. I also think that they could do much of what is proposed with less money.

And no teacher that's opposed to this bond will speak publicly about because: They will lose their job. And that is a fact. Period. The administration is too heavily invested in this issue.

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

"No actually I'm not going to tell what teachers I talked to. Because the district would retaliate against them. "

You're either parroting what some ignorant person told you, or you completely fabricated this statement. No truth to it whatsoever.

Let me guess, ReadingSports,'d be first in line to condemn teacher due process (a.k.a., albeit incorrectly, "tenure") - since doing so is towing the anti-public education line. Guess what? Due process protection is exactly why what you've said is nonsense. Teacher's can (and do) say whatever they want on this and other issues, and they don't have to worry about unjust reprisal.

GMom05 5 years, 2 months ago

I still don't understand why AFP was brought in to that meeting, except to make all the NO voters look ignorant. Apparently, it is thought that you must be an AFP supporter if you are voting NO on the bond. Couldn't be further from the truth. Leave them totally out of it. Many of us that are VOTING NO are doing so based on our own evaluations of the facts as told to us by the district. We are not being led along by AFP or any other group. We have decided that the district and the BOE are being wasteful with our money by spending $40 Million to expand the core schools, when we have three elementary buildings already at our disposal. It has nothing to do with earlier boards making bad decisions but everything to do with this board making bad decisions. And I am well aware that capital funds cannot be used to pay teacher salaries, but they can float a separate bond at another time to go to the general fund and therefore to teachers, however, if they run this bond up to $92.5 M now, it WILL be a tax INCREASE when we want to pay our teachers more and the state has cut our funding again. I think it is short-sighted on the part of the board and the district to not think about how to pay the people that really matter to our children. They are being fiscally irresponsible to not use buildings they already own. A NO vote is not a vote for consolidation. That's a vote for small neighborhood schools instead of 450 kids per building. My NO vote is a vote for small neighborhood schools and for teachers. Take another look BOE and administrators, rewrite this bond in a more responsible way and I'll vote for it. But, don't just run it up to $92.5 M because you can.


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