Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bond Highlights BOE's Misplaced Priorities

.The latest USD259 corporate welfare bond proposal is now at $370 million. While it is a slap in the face of Wichita voters facing higher food and fuel costs, it also shows the commitment of the board to tax and build. So where does education end up in the mix? At the bottom of the stack.

Today the Kansas Department of Education released the list of schools that have failed to meet achievement standards. There are 12 schools in Wichita. Most of us would assume that the children attending these schools would be the highest priority. Here's how the bond dollars are being distributed to the schools:

Clark Elementary, reading --- $690,000 (last construction-2004)

Cloud Elementary, reading and mathematics --- $1,200,000 (2006-still has 3 portables)

Curtis Middle School, reading and mathematics ---$1,250,000 (2005)

Enterprise Elementary, reading ---$1,500,000 (school built in 2003)

Hamilton Middle School, reading and mathematics ---$1,260,000 (2004)

Harry Street Elementary, reading ---$1,500,000 (2002)

Irving Elementary, reading ---$2,850,000 (2002)

Jardine Technology Magnet Middle School, reading and mathematics---$500,000 (2005)

Marshall Middle School, reading and mathematics ---$900,000 (2005)

Mead Middle School, reading and mathematics ---$1,250,000 (2003)

Pleasant Valley Middle School, reading and mathematics ---$1,380,000 (2005)

Truesdell Middle School, reading and mathematics ---$2,650,000 (2005)

Total: $16,930,000

Only 4.8% of the original $350 million proposal will be going to failing schools

Also included is the date of last construction. All schools have had additions or renovations within the last six years. New construction has done nothing to improve education. The small percentage of bond money earmarked for these schools is primarily for tracks, gyms and auditoriums, not improved classrooms.

Sooner or later, the USD259 Board will need to get their priorities in line with the needs of the students in the district, and realize that new construction does not equate to students who can read, write, and succeed. For the sake of Wichita kids, I hope it's sooner.


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