Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Letter to the editor: Longtime Tonganoxie resident concerned about bond issue

February 9, 2011

To the editor:

My feeling is that the City Council is making an attempt to control costs and expenditures — current and future. Good for them. The fall elections were a shot across the bow by demanding elected officials reign in the out-of-control spending that’s been going on for years.

There should be some concern that the school board and administration didn’t get the message. A $26.9 million dollar bond issue plus a possible $4.5 million for road access would be a huge increase in the mill levy for today’s economy. All of this plus the article about our new governor promising to cut state spending, as we the people elected him to do, leaves me wondering: What are they thinking? It will be hard enough to overcome the estimated $400,000 reduced state funding in 2011-12, let alone taking on a brand new facility. Remember the water line and sidewalk fiasco at the middle school? In the end, the taxpayer foots the bill.

I remember attending a pre-election meeting of school board candidates. Several stated “it is all about the kids.” I agree with that regarding inside schools’ walls, but getting the walls built should be about taxpayers. Nobody wants to see program and personnel cutbacks, but sometimes it has to happen.

My wife and I have lived here for 25 years, raised our children in Tonganoxie schools, have grandchildren here now and it’s still a good place to raise a family. We’ve voted for some past school bonds and against some. You can't win every time. Board members, administration and task force are well intentioned, but now is not the time for another school bond issue.

Ron Snapp,

Tonganoxie

Comments

Trouble 3 years, 5 months ago

Ron Snapp: I agree with you 100% It leaves all of wondering......What are they thinking?

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momtongie 3 years, 5 months ago

No one wants to raise taxes or pay higher taxes at any time, but something MUST be done about the growth of the school district. The growth is happening already, and if the bond issue isn't passed, what will they do with all the students then? Well, Ron Snapp, your grandchildren will be going to class in mobiles.

Also, there has never been a BETTER time for a bond issue! The constructions costs are at an all time low and the bond rates are outstanding! Yes, the state is cutting funding for schools in some areas, but they are STILL funding school bonds/construction, although the governor has said publicly that this money may go away after July 1! So time is critical!

What better way to rebound from hard economic times than to create more LOCAL jobs (construction and school jobs) and improve the schools and community! If you've read any other articles in the Mirror lately, you probably saw the GREAT article, "Education Key for Economy, Sherrer Says at LCDC Meeting" on January 26. Gary Sherrer, former Lieutenant Governor of Kansas is well-respected and has a great knowledge of the economy and education.

It IS about the kids. I'm voting YES for my kids and all the kids in the community!

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tongiekid 3 years, 5 months ago

The board and administration did not make the decision to try a bond issue on a whim or without considering the tough economic times. Much thought went into this decision and they are very well aware of the economic issues of this time. The elementary school in particular is already greatly overcrowded. The middle school soon will be overcrowded if something is not done soon. The situation at the high school with students walking back and forth between buildings is not ideal or safe. Science labs at the high school are small and outdated. Projections are that Tonganoxie will continue to grow. The board and administration would not be doing their jobs if they ignored these issues or backed away from them due to the economy. It takes some courage to do what you think is best even if the current situation is not ideal. Ultimately, the voters will decide whether this is something that should be done at the present time.

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booper1027 3 years, 5 months ago

momtongie and tongiekid: I agree 100%!

Trouble: Tell you what they are thinking...ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

The best way to spur on the economy is to find ways to employ people. We employ people by building. Building new schools will bring more people. The more people we have in this community the more rooftops we will have. The more rooftops we have the more our local economy will grow. By not building new schools when we need it we will just give people a good reason to leave or bypass our community and head on down the road to other places. We don't have to look far to see how other thriving communities on the outskirts of KC have done it. Those places continually support new school construction. Quality schools with quality facilties will build a quality community where many will choose to raise their family.

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12345 3 years, 5 months ago

What growth? How many new houses have been built since 2008? I'd guess maybe twenty, probably as many vacant houses in town due to foreclosures. This town hasn't grown in four years and probably won't until housing prices recover. When will that be?

This school district is spending money like crazy. Appraisals in town are up more than 50% in the last ten years, and the mill levy is up too. Since 2001 the school district's spending has doubled. Their budget was under 10 million in 2001-2002 and is over 20 million this year. The amount per pupil is up around 30% too.

The mill levy has increased 25%, from under 3 to 4 right now, and house appraisals are up - that means most households will be spending nearly double what they were ten years ago to fund this. When are we going to demand that our schools and governments quit spending money we don't have?

All the information is in here:

http://www.ksde.org/Portals/0/School%20Finance/budget/Budget_at_a_Glance/10-11_Summary/Profile464-2011.pdf

http://www.ksde.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=oDiXjNDTsz4%3D&tabid=1814

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gotongie 3 years, 5 months ago

Please see the Feb. 10th article in the Mirror, "Home Construction Down but Not Dire for LVCO". It might help the perspective shared above on housing. Here are some other items of interest for Tonganoxie patrons: Schools get funded by the # of kids in the district. The USD 464 budget $ has increased because more kids are here. The district has cut over $1 million from the budget in the last three years due to the loss of state funding without eliminating educational programs for kids. USD 464 has the lowest mill levy in Douglas, Wyandotte, and Leavenworth County. It is 8 mills below the average of these districts. Nearly 300 new students since the 2004 bond election...over 500 in the last decade. Over 100 3rd grade students go to class in trailers and a quonset hut. TES is nearly 200 students over capacity. TMS is at it's capacity. 600 THS students travel back and forth across a parking lot between two buildings in rain and snow. These same students attend school in a remodeled church. Every school bordering USD 464 to the east and south has better facilities and has built new schools in the last 3 years. Tonganoxie is the 8th fastest growing community in the state of KS over the last decade. Basehor is 2nd. Property value has increased because people want to live in this area. If property value declines, taxes will increase. 5,000 new jobs are coming to the area (Cerner) by 2013. People will not move here unless the school facilities improve. Without people the local economy will suffer because houses will not be filled and new construction will not occur. I hope people get the picture and VOTE YES for new schools and our kids on April 5th.

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momtongie 3 years, 5 months ago

Gotongie, thank you for stating the facts! It is evident by the facts that the need exists. Yes, there is growth, and students continue to come to Tonganoxie.

12345, your links don't go anywhere. I click on them and get a "site does not exist" error. Please share them again, as I'd love to check them out. I've done a lot of research, and your numbers aren't adding up.

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teatime 3 years, 5 months ago

I just want to point out that between the new subdivisions, new middle school, school remodels, new City shop,new pool, that downtown Tonganoxie is still dead, businesses are still closing and some of those left can't pay their sales taxes. So tell me one more time how a new grade school is going to save the community and local economy.

Yes, the grade school needs to be replaced. But not now. And when the time is right, it should be built modestly and not pompously. Since when does education have to come from mega-million dollar buildings? By the way, I went to 5th grade in a trailer right here in Tonganoxie over 35 years ago, so what's the hurry to change things now? Trailers may not be the optimum choice, but they are economical, they work, and you know what? It's all this community can afford right now.

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only1 3 years, 3 months ago

I know the bond issue has passed and the people have spoken, but wow, this is the very type of thought process that is killing this town. Things change in 35 years! Time to enter 2011.

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chieftain 3 years, 4 months ago

Tonganoxie School District will raise their tax levy for the school bonds. Tonganoxie City will raise their tax levy for the access roads to the school. The City Administrators have already sold the land on the river for a $200,000 loss, committed us to paying for improvements to county road 1 and if the 237 acres they bought on county road 1 ever develope then we will have to pay for utilities and road access there also. Our School and City Administrators spend a lot of money in the name of safety and developement. In this time of economic downturn with higher fuel prices and commodities now is not the time to raise taxes. I agree with Mr. Snapp. Just remember which public official votes for or against certain items and remember that at election time. It is time that they realize that money does not grow on trees. People pay a lot to live out here and drive long distances to and from work. Wake up people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Old_Vet 3 years, 4 months ago

The bond is about adequate facilities. Not the Taj Mahal but an average elementary school, some science labs for the high school, and consoldiation of the east and west campuses.

It is about space. It is about an elementary school that is overcrowded. It is about what this community wants. The bond is voted on by the citizens of this community. The Board of Education has no authority to raise our taxes regarding a bond. The City council likewise did not raise taxes for the swimming pool, we did. The citizens voted in majority to increase sales tax 3/4 cents.

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only1 3 years, 3 months ago

But you see Old vet, apparently some people think anything other than a trailer is the Taj Mahal. They spoke loud and clear, just hope there is a time warp before the next bond issue.

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