Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CARE, Recommending Less for More


Ahhh...those glorious days of last spring. When winter finally gave way to the green grass and flowers. Children started to play outdoors and the first robins arrived. The school district first claimed that delaying the bond vote to November would increase the cost of building a new high school by a mere $360,000.

Now, as we enter the heat of mid-summer, CARE has unveiled an all new and improved bond recommendation that is nearly identical to the old proposal. The CARE group recommends fiddling around with less than 8% of the total bond amount. However, the total recommended bond amount of $350 million remains the same.

Two questions immediately spring to mind on seeing this new proposal:

1) Who was it, among the 40 or so people who showed up at one of the CARE community meetins, that stood up and said, "We need to cut back on the athletic facilities and just plan to pay an extra $10 million for everything else."? As CARE was seeking community input with the super secret poll that forms the basis for recommendations to the BOE, did they ask the question "Would you like to pay more for less?" If not, where did the $10 million price hike come from?

2)How did CARE arrive at the $10 million figure for inflation? In the spring, interim superintendent Martin Libbert claimed that a delay until November would increase the cost for one high school by $360,000. If the district proposal were to build 27 brand new high schools a bump of $10 million might be justified.

In just three months, the cost of the plan have increased almost 3%. Even the most pessimistic economists are not claiming that inflation is 12% per year. But more importantly, what can taxpayers and parents expect in the out years? Will the FEMA shelters be completed on all the schools as the costs goes up?

The stated purpose of moving the election date was for the CARE group to educate the public about the bond issue, not to recalculate the costs of the bond. It's highly unlikely that the citizens of Wichita are clamoring to pay more for less. But that seems to be what CARE is proposing.


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