TJHS students voice support for bond issue
Growth in school enrollment means crowding, students say
Tonganoxie eighth-grader Kevin Hamm would rather have a new school than a new McDonald's fast-food restaurant.
That's saying a lot for a kid who likes nothing better than to sink his teeth into a super-sized "Number 3 Quarter Pounder."
Kevin, and three ninth-graders -- Jonathan Lane, Jake Bontrager and Kristen Titterington -- are among students at Tonganoxie Junior High School who hope voters approve the upcoming $25.3 million bond election for school construction.
In fact, Jonathan wrote an editorial in the junior high's October newsletter, "Tonganoxie Time."
These words are from his editorial: "The number of students in a classroom has risen also and this is where I and many others have been feeling the effect. Most classes are huge, reaching numbers in the 30s. This directly affects our learning ability."
Jake said overcrowding is a "big issue right now."
"It's like a luxury to have a small class because most of our classes are getting bigger and bigger," Jake said. "The high school is already overcrowded -- you can hardly move down some of the halls when you're trying to get around between classes."
And Kristen sympathized with teachers at TJHS.
"I know in junior high, the teachers are having to switch rooms all the time, and some of the classrooms are just way too small," Kristen said. "The rooms are too small, you can't even move around in them."
Kristen also said it's difficult for ninth-graders who take classes at the junior high and high school. The buildings' schedules aren't synchronized, which means the ninth-graders usually arrive late to their classes in the high school. And, the students have to be prepared for all kinds of weather. Kristin said the proposed building plans call for a covered walkway between the buildings.
Jake noted the school's enrollment has grown.
He said when he was in the fifth grade there were 117 kids in his class.
"Now there's over 150," Jake said.
It's apparent the students have done some deep thinking about the bond issue.
"My parents think the bond issue should pass," Jonathan said. "The taxes will go up, but so many people will be moving to Tonganoxie that at some time the taxes will go down -- people will be sharing it."
And Kevin, who has a sister attending fifth-grade classes in what was formerly a maintenance shed, mentioned the grade school's crowded conditions.
"They've got trailer after trailer there," Kevin said.
Kristin said she's been wondering whether the school bond election will pass.
"There are people in our town that don't have kids or grandkids in our school, so they don't want to raise taxes," Kevin said. "But they have to keep thinking about all the new people that we're going to have moving here and we're not going to have any room in the schools."
Jonathan agreed, "It looks like the population is going to keep up."
It's time for the schools to catch up with the area's growth, Jonathan said.
"Tonganoxie has been growing, with things like Couch Potato Video and stuff," Jonathan said. "We've got all this new stuff, but our school has not changed."