Friday, August 15, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

.The $10 million recently added to the bond proposal for an aviation technology magnet school is less than 3% of the total price tag for the bond, but it has received the most attention.

Obviously, the additional dollars for a technical education school is little more than a desperate attempt at pork barrel spending to purchase bond support from the aircraft industry. Architect-in-Chief Martin Libhart got it right in calling it an "earmark".

If all this seems kind of familiar, it is. The District pulled this same kind of bait-and-switch routine on the 2000 bond issue.

The 2000 bond issue plan included several million dollars for the Wichita Area Technical College, which among other things, had courses of study in aviation technology. As the Wichita Eagle pointed out, "Voters approved money in 2000 for technical education programs at the Wichita Area Technical College, which was under the board's supervision at the time." The Eagle story doesn't explain what happened to the money.

As part of that bond plan, a $2 million facility was to be built for applied engineering and technology programs. In 2004 the school district separated from WATC. Although the bond was passed in 2000, work on the facility had still not started four years later. At that time, USD 259 stepped out of the realm of aviation technology training.

The $2 million promised for technical training in 2000 disappeared into thin air.

Since that time, the Sedgwick County Technical Education and Training Authority has been created. Sedgwick County has put $54 million towards the National Center for Aviation Training at Jabara with substantial support from aviation and electronics companies.

Now that the BOE has put the bond on the ballot and committed to a $10 million aviation technology magnet school, Architect-in-Chief Libhart wishes to hold a 'summit' with leaders in aviation. (It's supposed to go "horse" then "cart")

Instead of holding a 'summit', Martin Libhart should prepare one of his dandy presentations explaining how $2 million spent in 2001 for a technical education facility, as promised to voters, would have been a better value for taxpayers and given hundreds of students the opportunity for training and good jobs.


No comments: