Monday, September 29, 2008

In Review

I received an email a few days ago requesting a short summary of the the arguments against the bond issue before early voting starts. For a quick 30 second summary, take a look at the Wichitans for Effective Education ad here.

There are four main reasons to vote against the bond:

1) The bond is too big and bloated.

One of the many claimed purposes for the bond is to reduce overcrowding. The enrollment at USD 259 has been relatively flat for the past 20 years. Existing grade schools and elementary schools are not being used at full capacity, while an additional new high school could easily be constructed using existing funds.

The tax increases from bond passage would result in Wichita property taxes for education being higher than both Maize and Andover. For a district trying to stem the flood of students leaving the district for Maize and Andover schools, this is a recipe for disaster.

2) The bond plan is based on the wrong priorities.

The schools that are performing worst academically, the ones failing state achievement standards, are receiving less than 5% of the bond funds. Most of the funds that are going to those schools are earmarked for athletic facilities.

Similarly, the assigned attendance area (AAA), the area of assigned busing, is also being short changed. Less than 5.8% of the bond funds are destined for the schools in the AAA neighborhoods.

3) Passage of this bond will be positive reinforcement of the failures of the USD 259 leadership, further setting back real accountability.

Not only did USD 259 fail to protect our children by adding FEMA shelters during the last round of construction, the overall performance of the educational mission of this district has been substandard. Nearly 25% of students in USD 259 fail to graduate.

The district insists on playing games with district boundaries to separate economically disparate neighborhoods rather than putting kids first and easing localized overcrowding at some schools.

Nearly $7.5 million of the current bond proposal will be spent on facilities that are less than five years old. Not only is this costing tax payers, but it points to a startling lack of foresight by district leadership.

4) The behavior of the School Board and others connected with this bond raise questions about the veracity of the BOE and motives of the bond supporters.

Any hope that the Board of Education might be interested in listening carefully to community concerns when out the window when they changed the date for the bond vote (and added $10million to cover 'inflation' because of the delay) because it looked like their side was losing.

The board then turned over authority to make decisions of the shape and form of the bond to a secretive group of bond supporters, while stonewalling bond opponents seeking simple information, such as the number of classrooms in the district.

A quick look behind the curtain reveals that the money behind the vote yes campaign is really just the usual group of architects and contractors, many of whom don't even live in the district. In fact, the spokesperson for the group doesn't live in the Wichita district.

Happy voting!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Lens of Money

There was an interesting comment over at Wichita Liberty from Joe Williams suggesting disbelief at the idea that the current $370 million bond issue is part of a grand plan to generate profits for local businesses.

Joe is correct, that "Any contractor doing anything for a government entity, stands to make money and many often bid for those lucrative contracts."

However, most business try to generate demand for their products. Do you really "deserve a break today", or is McDonalds merely doing their level best to make you believe that you need to stop for a burger and fries? If you don't need another credit card, why do all those pre-approved offers arrive in the mail?

We've discussed who is providing the money for the bond issue push.

The commenter validly points out that the bond issue should be considered on it's merits. Here at 259Truth, we'll look at the bond issue from a perspective that does not include the possibility of making millions of dollars based on the outcome of the vote.

If others, such as Mark McCormick, want to accept the statements of 'community leaders' without consideration of a profit motive, that is their own business.

In the meantime, perhaps Lynn Rogers could make some minimal effort to get his facts straight (Lord knows Mark McCormick is too lazy to actually check a fact). Rogers claims that Isley elementary has a capacity of 300....USD 259 says the capacity is 480.