Archive for Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Safety, security issues addressed in bond issue

Renderings of THS lobby.

Renderings of THS lobby.

March 9, 2011

(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of Mirror stories examining aspects of USD 464’s $26.9 million bond issue.)

It only takes one step into Tonganoxie High School to realize its design predates April 20, 1999.

That was the date of the Columbine High School shootings, a tragedy that prompted new approaches to school security. Among the changes was refitting existing schools or designing new ones with access limited to one secure entry point, which usually funneled visitors to an office.

With 80 security cameras monitoring the school’s interior and exterior, Tonganoxie High School isn’t without modern security measures. But single-point controlled access isn’t possible at a school with classes in an east and west building separated by 75 yards.

It’s a campus-like environment that forces students leaving the security of one building to walk to a class in the other and has Tonganoxie USD 464 administrators worried about the school’s vulnerability.

“We have been so lucky and so blessed,” said THS Principal Jamie Carlisle. “We have not had one incident.

“I hold my breath when I say that. It only takes one.”

Adding to Carlisle and USD 464 Superintendent Kyle Hayden’s discomfort is the visibility of the high school campus from U.S. Highway 24-40.

“It’s a much more significant risk,” Carlisle said. “KDOT estimates 12,000 cars are going in front of our high school every day.”

Carlisle said the school has done what it could to mitigate traffic by adopting block scheduling to reduce the number of daily passing periods and placing freshman and sophomore classes in the west building and junior and senior classes in the east building.

“We’ve done everything in our control,” Carlisle said. “It’s impossible to eliminate it. That’s why we’re coming to voters asking for the bond issue. That’s the only step to remedy this problem.

The $26.9 million USD 464 bond referendum before voters April 5 would remedy security concerns by connecting the two current buildings with a long corridor flanked by eight classrooms, a media center, new high school and district offices and choral room. The new section would also provide the school’s single secured access. The $5.9 million addition would open in August 2013.

The bond would also address a similar problem at Tonganoxie Elementary School, where students in classrooms housed in the Quonset Hut and modular units must walk a shorter distance as a group to the main building for lunch or as individuals to use the restroom, Tonganoxie Elementary School Principal Tammie George said.

The construction of the new second- through fifth-grade intermediate elementary school to open in August 2014 on the district’s south campus would allow for the removal of the modular units and razing of the Quonset hut, which would address another safety concern with the addition of a parking lot.

And, of course, moving three grade levels to the intermediate school would remove much twice-daily traffic from narrow downtown streets.

It would also make for a smaller staff of what would then be a pre-school, kindergarten and first-grade facility, allowing them to stop parking on the streets near the school, George said.

The new school would also defuse the twice-daily traffic snarl around the elementary school as perhaps 200 parents crowd the downtown area to drop off and pick up children.

It is

“Pick-up time is very frustrating,” George said. “A lot of people pick up students at the same time. Traffic and the flow of traffic is what I’d call frightening. I’d say we have a lot of close calls.”

One of those who battles the congestion on school days is Tiffany Bennett. At 3 p.m. Monday she was parked in front of the school waiting to pick up her Brayden, a first-grader. She usually arrives at 2:45 p.m. to ensure she gets a spot on the west side of Shawnee Street near the door her son leaves the building. Her preferred spot is near Forth Street, which allows her to avoid running the Shawnee Street gauntlet in front of the school with cars parked on both sides of the one-way street and parents escorting children to cars.

“When cars are parked and people are walking through, it gets hard to muddle through,” Bennett said. “After the snows, it was real narrow.

“It’s not the best solution.”

Comments

Will_B_Blunt 3 years, 6 months ago

It's interesting how school boards take on the role of elected government. Granted the school board members are elected, but they have to go to the taxpayers and elected government officials to raise money and collect taxes for their projects. When does the taxpayer and local government say, "What is the return on my investment?" City governments are cutting programs to meet budgets but school boards are still developing plans to expand schools. The schools/expansion may be needed but do the facilites need all the bells and whistles when the students are barely passing assessment tests. Why would you need a choral room when you just built a performing arts facility. Let's not forget you've got the school spending money on sports fields improvements, new athletic uniforms, JV and Varsity sports teams but what about just the 3-Rs. Why is it we were able to put men on the moon using slide rulers but today school administrators want all students to have computers, paid for by the taxpayer. The students can't even be in the classroom without texting and surfing on their cell phones. It's interesting to read the THS principal instituted block scheduling. It is only part-time block scheduling. It could possibly make things easier if the program was fulltime. The danger of having the high school on 24-40. Come-on now. The school was there long before the new adminstration was hired. It will be there long after they are gone. Trying to scare parents with the Columbine anniversary is a bad strategy. It only takes one determined disturbed individual to disrupt the status quo of the school - regardless of how much money you spend on security. So, as the school superintendent curries favor and hypes the "need," remember to ask, "What is my return on investment?" Is it necessary or is it nice to have? Will it improve learning and school attendance or will it just raise my taxes? Will test scores improve or will there be less cash in my pocket?

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Will_B-Blunt,

Your approach of "What is the return on my investment?" is a very good one.

In short answer to everything you seek, check this out... I'll give you a few moments to read through it...

http://www.demingps.org/www/demingps/site/hosting/Department%20of%20Finance/Construction/do%20buildings%20improve%20learning.pdf

Finished? Good. WOW!
= 5-17% higher test scores from students in better building conditions?!?!?
= Standardized achievement scores improved 10.9% in schools with improved building conditions from poor to excellent?!?!? = Students with the most exposure to daylight progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests than those with the least exposure?!?!? = As the age of school increase, achievement scores decrease?!?!?! = The condition of facilities may have a stronger impact on a student's performance than family background, socioeconomic status, school attendance and behavior... COMBINED?!?!? = Schools with better conditions have 14% lower suspension rates?!?!? = Quality of environment has a 66% greater impact on teacher retention than salary?!?!?

Well, I hope that helps to answer your questions. But if not, I ask "What is the return on our NON-investment?"

Personally, I find it to be a very high Return on Investment to do whatever is in my power to give my children the tools they need to learn and compete, to stay interested in learning, to be as safe as possible during the school day, to give them EVERYthing they need to be successful! I also find it to be a very high Return on Investment to give $15/ mo to provide the same to your children, and my neighbor's children, and my co-workers children, and the children that aren't even born yet, etc, etc.

If you don't agree, then I can only assume that you don't change the oil in your car, lock your doors at night, or keep a check register and check your bank statement when it comes.

One last thing... safety is safety. And risky is risky. The reference to Columbine isn't provided to suggest that we've been playing with fire. The point is that the current set up isn't safe. No answer will provide a 100% safe solution. But NOT doing something does provide a 0% solution.

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

OH MAN! The link doesn't work! Here I have this sweet piece of info, and... nothing.

Well, you can either take my word for it, or you can try this...

Google "Do new schools improve learning" and check out the 3rd one down.

Maybe if MY elementary school would have had better facilities, I would know how to work this internets thing!!!

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JerryB 3 years, 6 months ago

Invoking the Columbine tragedy is a pretty weak effort, in my view.

By my advanced math, the Columbine tragedy (in 1999) occurred BEFORE the last bond issue. For those who don't remember, the bond issue in about 2004 or so was the one that called for creating the high school "campus" whereby high schoolers would be spread amongst the two buildings on 24/40. The bond issue made no provision for safety/security at that time, even though Columbine was an even fresher memory. One might respond "well, the bond issue didn't have enough resources to connect the buildings - yet the high school needed the larger campus." That may very well be true, but why then did that bond issue spend money on other non-security, non-academic projects that were apparently a higher priority?

Not only did the previous bond issue not take security into account, it invested millions in other interests that the district apparently placed above safety: interests like a wrestling room, additional athletic facilities, a student "lounge" where kids play video games every day, etc... Somehow the district placed those interests above the claimed "safety" hazard that comes with having the exposed campus. This sure implies the district doesn't truly have that much concern for safety.

Trying to convince me that the district is pushing this bond issue out of concern for our children's safety is falling on deaf ears.

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

JerryB,

Once again, I fear your grudge is interfering with your better judgment. Instead of being against this bond because the last didn't worry about safety, why aren't you championing the NEW Administration for addressing what are obvious issues? Would you feel better about yourself if, God forbid, something were to happen, and you were able to say "I told you so! They should've been more careful the first time!"

And the safety issues are so much larger than the high school's campus. They include the traffic and parking issues at the elementary school, too, among other things. Should we not do something to help prevent a child running across the street after school and getting hit? How about some child being snatched by a jilted parent while he's walking to the main building to the bathroom? Likely occurrences? Maybe not. But possibilities? Absolutely!

Again, I urge you to let bygones be bygones with the last bond, and look at this as an opportunity to correct our current situation while building for the future.

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rosebud 3 years, 6 months ago

Question... When this bond issue passed back in 2004 was the same board members that we have now on the board then?

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Old_Vet 3 years, 6 months ago

I can recall only four names; Rick Lamb, Mr. Hanson, Mr. Moore, and Mr. Dehoff.. These four are no longer on the board. Dr. Erickson was the superintendent and is no longer with the district.

Current Board: Mrs. Truesdale, Mrs. Grinter, Mrs. Smith, Ms. Baragary, Mr. Hopkins, Mrs. Leslie, and Mildred (don't remember her last name).

I don't recall if Leslie, Truesdale, or Smith were on the board at that time.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 6 months ago

Just watch the documentary, "Waiting for Superman" then come back and tell me that public education is working in this country. If you have Netflix, it's available for streaming right now...

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momtongie 3 years, 6 months ago

Here is the review for "Waiting for Superman"

Grading 'Waiting for Superman' Dana Goldstein | September 23, 2010

"Here's what you see in Waiting for Superman, the new documentary that celebrates the charter school movement while blaming teachers unions for much of what ails American education: working- and middle-class parents desperate to get their charming, healthy, well-behaved children into successful public charter schools.

Here's what you don't see: the four out of five charters that are no better, on average, than traditional neighborhood public schools (and are sometimes much worse); charter school teachers, like those at the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles, who are unionized and like it that way; and noncharter neighborhood public schools, like PS 83 in East Harlem and the George Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, that are nationally recognized for successfully educating poor children.

You don't see teen moms, households without an adult English speaker or headed by a drug addict, or any of the millions of children who never have a chance to enter a charter school lottery (or get help with their homework or a nice breakfast) because adults simply aren't engaged in their education. These children, of course, are often the ones who are most difficult to educate, and the ones neighborhood public schools can't turn away.

You also don't learn that in the Finnish education system, much cited in the film as the best in the world, teachers are—gasp!—unionized and granted tenure, and families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and healthcare, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results at school."

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only1 3 years, 6 months ago

I see my last post was removed. The truth must hurt.

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gotongie 3 years, 6 months ago

One of mine was removed as well! This is getting exciting!

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Old_Vet 3 years, 6 months ago

Discussed this with a colleague the other day. It appears that the community is seeing a division between older and young residents. Many residents over the age of 60 are opposed to any new taxes. Interesting in that the young people, 55 and younger, have had very civil discourse concerning this bond issue. However, many of the elderly opposed to this bond have been rude, abusive and down right nasty. I tried to discuss with an old friend of the family, a gentleman I've known for decades, and he was abusive, wouldn't listen to reason, didn't care about the children because they have much more than he ever had, and he had made up his mind. Wisdom? It sure didn't seem like he had any. He acted like a spoiled brat.

I posted earlier that I was undecided, that was about two months ago. I believe I would support the bond issue now. The positives far outweigh the negatives. My 'friends' outrage and lack of foresight helped me to see the issue through a different lense. I corrected someone the other day who claimed that the school board voted to raise our taxes because of this bond. I was surprised by their ignorance. The board passed a resolution, only the voters can vote to raise taxes with this bond.

Is this the best plan? No, but it is a good plan. I would have preferred to see the old TES used by the city and the new school built to accomodate growth for the next ten years or so. But time is a resource as well and something we are running out of, if we don't approve it we'll be tacking on another 20 million on top of the 26 in another five years.

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

Old_Vet!

Excellent post!

It's truly a shame that some are so concerned with losing their $X / month, and would spite our City's and children's futures for a few bucks tacked onto their mortgage payments or bi-annual property tax bills. Personally, if I could pay double my total, I'd do it!

I only hope there are enough sensible, reasonable people in our community, like you, who will take the time to consider the needs and facts to base their decision on.

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momtongie 3 years, 6 months ago

Totally agree with Old_Vet and hricane23! I, too, have witnessed the rude and nastiness from some people! Too bad everyone can't take the "feelings" out of it and just look at the facts! Being passionate is great, but being rude and nasty is not!

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JP 3 years, 6 months ago

This is not the time for a bond issue or an increase in taxes. Most folks are struggling to make it week to week. I have lived in this community for 30 years, will have grandchildren in this school system and have supported and not supported bond issues, it's always for the children but that is not the case in most bond issues as I have seen it. Asking for a bond issue in our current economy is not feasable, most folks set up a budget and have to live by it, cut your budget if you cannot afford your lifestyle. The same should be for our school system, let's make do for the time being and when the economy is better then try to pass a bond issue.

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

JP,

I'm going to be painfully and brutally honest here. Some of our townsfolk will lose their homes whether we vote yes or no. Voting "no" will not save a single family from foreclosure. This bond will cost less than $9/ mo for a home worth $100,000. If $9/ mo is the difference between a family making it or falling apart, well, the sad truth is that it's just a matter of time.

Yes, the economy is and has been struggling for the last few years. Yes, the signs of improvement nationally will take some time to trickle down to us, just like the first signs of the recession took some time to get to us. Yes, families are and will continue to struggle. ALL OF THIS WILL HAPPEN NO MATTER HOW YOU VOTE!!!

So, let's consider the financial reasons why NOW is the RIGHT TIME to vote "YES":

  1. State aid to provide at least 25% of construction costs. - Considering the State's budget cuts, I don't think anybody can really expect this to be around any longer.

  2. State aid to provide $1,125,000 per year, for two years, for equipment, supplies, and wages for additional staff. - Again, can't expect this to be around any longer, either.

  3. Interest rates for the financing are at an all time low. - Doing this now will save MILLIONS in interest payments! MILLIONS! If my calculations are right, a 2% increase to the interest rate would mean $8,000,000 more in interest payments!

  4. According to Advisors, construction costs are down right now. - While some aspects of construction might not be down, i.e. concrete or steel, I think labor costs are down, which is because of the economy. So, we have the economy to thank for saving us money, while providing some struggling families with jobs and income during the construction.

  5. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. - All things considered, this is a small monthly investment to give our community the facilities that are very much needed now, and the facilities needed to support the future. We stand just a few miles away from continued growth out in KCK. We have a proposed industrial park out on Hwy 1. Our population has grown by 86% in the last 10 years. Taking care of these needed projects will support this inevitable growth. Growth that will increase the tax base as it happens.

The time is now. If we wait until the economy is "better", people will continue to lose their homes; People will continue to lose their jobs; and our costs will all be much, much higher.

And before someone says that the State aid isn't "free money" (again), you're right, it isn't. It's money that we have already paid. It's money that we will continue to pay. It's money that our fellow Kansans all over the state are paying. It's our money that we get back into our community, instead of someone else using it. It's Kansas money for Kansas schools.

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12345 3 years, 6 months ago

Your second reason is one of the biggest reasons I won't support this. They are raising taxes to pay for the building now and will have to again in two years when the state money is used up. This isn't only $9/month - it's much more than that. This is a common trick to hide the full cost of this type of projects, as the extra operational costs and staffing are hidden from the scope of the next few budget sessions.

Also, the construction costs of this thing are outrageous. Part of the reason is that state money requires that contractors be a union shop if one is available. This means that none of our local electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, etc. will see a dime of the money and it will cost more than otherwise. That means that the money leaves our community and the savings aren't the 25% you think they are.

Lastly, this is much bigger than what is required. If they have a good reason to almost abandon the current grade school I'd like to hear it. They could either scale this down a lot or scale it up a bit and raze the existing building to sell as building lots - like we need more empty lots in town. That would at least save us operational costs and put some of the money back.

Eudora did this too. They built new school after new school because it's "for the kids." You can't get anyone to stand up against it because they are against the kids. Now they have two empty and abandoned schools and huge tax bills that will slow the growth they were counting on. Taxes on a $150,000 house in Eudora are around $3000/year. The same thing happened to McLouth too. Their taxes and utility rates completely stopped a new development that had started on the south end of town. The town now has a huge water tower and sewer treatment plant but not enough citizens to help pay for it. This isn't "field of dreams." Wait for the growth and respond to it. Otherwise the high taxes will stop the growth that the building was built to accommodate.

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12345 3 years, 6 months ago

Your second reason is one of the biggest reasons I won't support this. They are raising taxes to pay for the building now and will have to again in two years when the state money is used up. This isn't only $9/month - it's much more than that. This is a common trick to hide the full cost of this type of projects, as the extra operational costs and staffing are hidden from the scope of the next few budget sessions.

Also, the construction costs of this thing are outrageous. Part of the reason is that state money requires that contractors be a union shop if one is available. This means that none of our local electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, etc. will see a dime of the money and it will cost more than otherwise. That means that the money leaves our community and the savings aren't the 25% you think they are.

Lastly, this is much bigger than what is required. If they have a good reason to almost abandon the current grade school I'd like to hear it. They could either scale this down a lot or scale it up a bit and raze the existing building to sell as building lots - like we need more empty lots in town. That would at least save us operational costs and put some of the money back.

Eudora did this too. They built new school after new school because it's "for the kids." You can't get anyone to stand up against it because they are against the kids. Now they have two empty and abandoned schools and huge tax bills that will slow the growth they were counting on. Taxes on a $150,000 house in Eudora are around $3000/year. The same thing happened to McLouth too. Their taxes and utility rates completely stopped a new development that had started on the south end of town. The town now has a huge water tower and sewer treatment plant but not enough citizens to help pay for it. This isn't "field of dreams." Wait for the growth and respond to it. Otherwise the high taxes will stop the growth that the building was built to accommodate.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 6 months ago

Ah yes...let us continue, as lemmings, over the cliff of reason based on figures which support a false reality: namely, money = superior education. The Interest rate is idea; cool. Construction costs are down; great. My problem with everything related to public education is a lack of accountability and a general apathy on the part of many in the education profession.

There will be those that say, "I know many great teachers" and for each one, I can point at examples in my life who punched the timeclock at 7:45 am and punched out at 3:15 pm; prayed at the altar of "snow days"; and constantly talked about "Teacher In-Service Days" like it was a a High Holy Day on the Jewish calendar. This is just one symptom of the bigger problem of moving kids through the assembly line to graduation with very little focus on the product.

The current public education system is broke and needs to be fixed before we dump more money at the issue. As I've been told before: my "medicine is too strong and no one will drink it" (to correct the education system) but the current system is too broken to ignore it any longer. In my mind, absolution of responsibility to properly educate is more heinous of a crime against the children as "not giving the kids the proper tools and environment". If the assembly line is broken, the product will never have quality regardless of whether you build a multimillion dollar assembly plant.

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only1 3 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, but I can't do anything but laugh at your post. "Many" people have great educational experiences and "many" kids respect teachers for the care, and time that they dedicate to kids. If more people in this country cared as much as teachers do, we'd be better off. What have you done for society lately? Sure, there are some poor teachers, as in any profession, but don't lump them all into one and use that as an excuse not to grow as a community. Car dealerships have apathetic workers, do you ride a bike? Sorry you are so sour and distorted with your view. You are right, I want no part of your medicine.

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fed_up 3 years, 6 months ago

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I am fed up. I swore to myself that I would stand above the fray, but I am fed up. I am fed up with feeling like I need to apologize for choosing teaching as my career. I am fed up with teachers and the teaching profession being denigrated at every turn. I am fed up with the mean-spirited comments of the under-informed. I am just fed up. So, here goes (I will try to be as concise as possible).

• The teachers you complain about are the extreme exception not the rule. Most of us (every one that I know) care deeply for our students and work countless hours to ensure their success. People like you say teachers only work nine months a year. Well, in this case you are correct. I DO teach nine and a half months a year but put in 60+ hour weeks during that time. I’d be glad to punch a time clock as long as I am compensated for my overtime. I’d take compensatory time off in lieu of pay. I’d say two and a half months off sounds about right. But wait – I have to work a second job during that time.

• You say your teachers “prayed at the altar of "snow days"; and constantly talked about "Teacher In-Service Days" like it was a a High Holy Day on the Jewish calendar.” (I won’t correct the errors in that sentence nor will I address your degradation of the Jewish faith) The safety of students is paramount when it comes to snow days. Period. As for in-service days, I (and many other teachers) would much rather have kids in school than have in-service days. Those days are mandated by our local school board, not by teacher choice.

• I have over 14 years of experience and hold a Master’s degree. For all of this I am paid $44,250 a year. Oh, and I paid for all of my education myself while raising two small children. I am still paying off my student loans.

• Let me pose this question – do you criticize the entire medical profession because of experiences with one bad doctor? How about dentists? Accountants? Sales clerks? Mechanics? Secretaries? Store owners? Are all of them terrible because of the actions or behaviors of one or even a few? Logic will tell you no. That kind of thinking, as I teach my students, is faulty generalization. I know what you’ll say – we are free to change doctors or dentists or accountants if we choose. That’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that lumping ALL teachers into ANY behavior group is faulty generalization.

I long for the day when members of my chosen profession receive the respect their positions, sacrifices, and dedication deserve. Until then I will be satisfied with what I received today. After scolding a student for talking too much during class, that student saw me in the hall later and, as he walked by, told me I was his favorite teacher.

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fed_up 3 years, 6 months ago

As for the bond issue, vote for or against it. There’s not much I can do to change the outcome. The space is sorely needed, but money is tight. Convincing arguments are there for both sides. Know this – whatever the outcome, teachers in our district will keep on keepin’ on.

Oh, and one more thing. Public education is not "broken." The problem with public education can and should be placed squarely on NCLB legislation which, among other things, creates unattainable goals and sets all public schools up to fail. As for Waiting for Superman, it is pure propaganda, another topic my students learn all about!

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momX2 3 years, 6 months ago

Great points fed_up. I would like to suggest that you re-post your thoughts to the newer bond issue article.

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gotongie 3 years, 6 months ago

"12345"-- You are VERY wrong about what you are stating. Several of your points are just plain untrue. The main reason you are not voting for this, as you stated, is that the costs will increase after two years are up. Wrong. Our district will receive new facilities state aid to the tune of 2.2 million dollars to be used for new operational costs. It is estimated that only one third of this will be used for new operating costs for the first two years. The other two thirds of the money will be reserve funds. So, no, your $9/month will not go up.
Second, Kansas is a "Right to Work" state, unlike Missouri. So, it is completely false that the state aid requires union workers. This job will be bid out to everyone.
Third, as far as the old elementary goes, I suggest you go to the informational meetings this week to hear how they are going to utilize it.
Lastly, comparing us to Eudora? Come on. Perhaps they planned poorly? How about looking at Basehor. They passed a bond, still have reserve funds from their projects, and because of that, have made no cuts to their staff, despite the current state of educational funding.
I highly suggest you get your facts straight. It's one thing to be against this bond for valid reasons, but you are basing your vote on misinformation.
Attend one of the public question and answer sessions this week. Get informed before posting things that are not true, and more importantly, before voting "no".
Jason 2007---Didn't you post this same thing not too long ago on something else? Maybe you should channel your flowery rhetoric into something more helpful to our children and schools. We all know there are problems with public education. But ask yourself this.....is what you are doing helping it or hurting it? Are you involved with the schools? Do you volunteer? Are you on the school board? Do you speak to your state legislators about these issues? Have you heard any of the presentations on what is needed in our local schools? Or.....do you just copy and paste old comments? Obviously you have not researched how environment can affect learning. I could go on and on, but the same things are being stated on these blogs and people are just not getting it.

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only1 3 years, 6 months ago

I'll answer that. Jason2007 does nothing but gripe about public education. It doesn't matter what the subject, somehow it's public education's fault. His stand it "tired"... Think most are seeing that.

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momtongie 3 years, 6 months ago

Here are some facts to respond to the posts by 12345 and jason2007:

  1. The state money (funding a minimum of 25% of the bond cost) will not dry up. This money is provided as part of the passing of the bond and is guaranteed if the bond is passed prior to July 1. After July 1, the state legislature has current bills that will significantly reduce the state aid on bonds.

  2. The state money providing $1.125 million each year for 2 years is provided to schools who open new buildings to assist with the costs of equipment, supplies, and wages for new staff. This allows the district to "grow into" the new building, and after that 2 years, the enrollment growth then begins to cover that amount when it's gone after 2 years.

  3. The new staff for the new building will only be a few additional personnel (cooks, custodians, secretary) and will be added as needed as enrollment continues to grow (and it will). To begin, the district will reshuffle current staff and not add too many new staff to begin with. More will be added as enrollment grows.

  4. When hiring construction for the new building, districts can write their bid specs according to their needs/wants, so the state does not dictate union vs nonunion and locals companies certainly CAN be hired if they meet the bid specs!

  5. The current elementary will NOT be abandoned. It will be used to house PreKindergarten through 1st grade. The new intermediate elementary will house 2nd through 5th grade.

  6. This bond issue has nothing to do with the current education system in the country. Tonganoxie has outstanding teachers. I have children in each building, and I have never come across a teacher who is apathetic. Accountability is measured through state assessments, and all aspects of public education are overseen by the state department of education. The statements about teachers by jason2007 have nothing to do with the bond issue. If you have a problem with the current education system in the country, do something about it. Run for the local school board or better yet, the state school board so you can be a part of the process and make the changes you think need to be made.

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12345 3 years, 6 months ago

Right to work laws don't eliminate unions, they only say that union membership can't be made a condition of employment. They don't address the topic you are claiming they are.

Regarding the funding after two years - What increase in enrollment will replace 1.125 million dollars of state aid? That's 10% of our current budget! Last year there were maybe half a dozen new houses built in tow. What could possibly happen in two years to replace 10% of our budget?

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

12345 and Jason2007,

It's a real problem in this country how "good" we've become at identifying problems without providing solutions. From politicians that sit across the aisles yelling at each other about how the other side is screwing things up, to business owners who look at their bottom line and blame everything from the economy to lazy workers. Some come up with successful plans to address their issues, some come up with unsuccessful plans. But I guaranty that none of them have found success by coming up with nothing.

Jason2007, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but our public education system is not going to be thrown away any time soon.

And 12345, the project wasn't developed within the last month. Did you provide any insight into the plans over the last 2 1/2 years?

This Administration has worked for a long time at developing solutions to the many problems with our facilities. Unfortunately, my crystal ball is in the shop, and I can't guaranty it will be a 100% fix for 50 years into the future. But I can guaranty that the project has been created by a bunch of people that have carefully considered the needs, and have done their best to address as many as they could. The project is what it is.

Nobody ever WANTS to pay more taxes. The same argument against the costs and raising taxes would be made 5 years from now. But in 5 years, the costs will be much higher, and the tax increase would be, too.

So, let's buck the trend! We've found problems in our facilities, it's time to DO something about them now!

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 6 months ago

hricane23: You're not the bearer of bad news...just the supporter of a broken methodology.

GoTongie: Yes, the same things are being stated over and over on these blogs and people certainly are not getting it. The reflection in the mirror comes to mind. Regarding if my pointed thoughts on public education are hurting or helping...the same thing could have been said of Patrick Henry or Thomas Paine. Where their speeches helpful or hurtful to the colonies under a broken system of govt? I'm sure those that supported the crown would have said it was hurtful (just as those that blindly support anything in the name of the kids do) but in retrospect, sometimes ideas strike the match to revolution. In this case, I am looking for a revolution in public education. THAT is what our kids deserve.

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only1 3 years, 6 months ago

Wow.... You are looking for a revolution on a message board? Ummm.... Nevermind... Good luck.

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

jason2007,

It's amazing how you have become so well-spoken, so well-versed, a man of such vast knowledge all without the initial foundation laid by education. It's no small miracle that you were able to slip the shackles of our corrupt and broken system, and I applaud you, sir!

All I ask is that while you're out leading this revolution against public education across our great land, that you take the time to help us poor plebeians out by giving us some new facilities in the meantime. Heck, it doesn't really matter anyhoo, since you're going to go fix the system anyway! But in the meantime, I'd really like for my children, and my neighbor's children, and my neighbor's neighbor's children, etc., to not be sitting in each other's laps on account of there ain't enough room in that there school building.

Thanks!

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 6 months ago

I have researched the posting histories of everyone involved in the "pro side" of this debate. Are you folks employed by USD 464? All you are apparently interested in posting is regarding any article on the school...specifically, taking money from folk and redistributing to buildings.

GoTongie: I have yet to cut and paste one post over my 82 distinct comments, varying on a wide range of topics. You, on the other hand, have posted 5 times on nothing but bond-related issues. I believe this is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black....

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gotongie 3 years, 6 months ago

"The fact of the matter is, teachers worship at the altar of snow days and that is just another indication of how sick our education system is: most don't really care about the kids or their futures, just punching that timeclocking, rushing to get tenured, and then retire at 55 with a pension. If they can hit those milestones with fewer working days each year, all the better."--Jason2007 blog Feb. 4, 2011 I stand corrected. You don't cut and paste, you just repeat yourself. Yes, I am the pot calling the kettle black. I just had to look back at your old posts and find this one, because I knew I'd read something similar to what you posted today in a past comment.
And you are correct, I have only posted on this issue. I have not posted over 82 distinct comments on a variety of issues. You really got me there. And by the way, I do not work for the district. No one is really working right now, we're all wasting time on these darn comments.

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only1 3 years, 6 months ago

How could we all be employees of USD 464? All they are interested in doing is punching the timeclock. Much too apathetic to express their beliefs on this bond issue. Why would they care? After all, they're just teachers looking for a snow day.

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gotongie 3 years, 6 months ago

Okay, I had to laugh on this one. Yes, Jason2007, your blogs on the Tonganoxie Mirror are very similar to the works of Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine. Taxation from a government across the ocean three hundred years ago is just like local control of taxation to build a new school. I get what you are trying to say (albeit in a ridiculous comparison), but don't insult me. I do not blindly support anything.
We are not discussing all of the wrongdoings of public education. If that were the case, I would be more than fired up to discuss my thoughts. We are discussing building improvements.
I will ask again. Have you gone to any of the public meetings on this issue? Have you visited the elementary school lately as a volunteer? Are you involved in our local, state, or national government? Henry and Paine did more than just write. If you feel so strongly about "striking the match" to change public education, I urge you to get involved instead of just "looking".

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

jason2007,

Since you've already researched it, I'll provide my background only for the benefit of others. I am NOT employed by USD 464. I am a banker in Lawrence. I moved to Tongie 5 1/2 years ago. I've been married to my lovely wife for 10 years. I have a 120 pound dog that is 13+ years old. From what I've been told, that's pretty old for a big dog. No pun intended, but do I have a "dog in the fight"? Yes. I have a 2nd grade child at TES, and a 2 1/2 year old that, barring a move away from town, will attend USD 464 facilities. My home's value is higher than the town's median value, and I will pay a higher dollar amount in taxes.

Additionally, I'm a Virgo. I ride motorcycles, enjoy listening to System of a Down and Dropkick Murphys, and "death rock" bands like Slipknot. I like the people and atmosphere at Helen's Hilltop. Shout out to Missy, Noah, Tom Tom, Chris, and everyone else! My moniker comes from my long time allegiance to the University of Miami Hurricanes sports teams, although I graduated from KU. I don't like the speed humps in front of our schools, but can see why someone thought they'd be a good idea.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 6 months ago

hricane23: Personally, I enjoy "Wake up" by Rage Against the Machine but your choices are good as well.

And the Miami Hurricanes...you can't go wrong there. See, we can agree on something.

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

We should totally hang out... AFTER the vote!

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artichokes 3 years, 6 months ago

Our household is currently undecided on which way we'll vote in regard to the bond issue. I am not against it, but I'm not feeling urge to rally around it either.

A little about me so I am not wrongfully placed into a category I don't belong in regard to classifying people who are for or against the bond. I am a patron of the district, under 40 college educated woman, not ‘from’ here but moved here within the last few years and am proud to call Tongie home, do not work for the district (though we have discussed the bond issue with friends who are), have volunteered and am involved, my home value is more than double that of the median home value of $93,700 (city website) and although I am on the fence about this particular bond issue - I voted for the bond that built the current middle school. Do I feel like we didn't get what we voted for in 2004 - in some aspects, yes. Am I going to hold that against what is on the table now, of course not. I do find it frustrating that part of the original plan was to build TMS so that when more space was needed we would add on another wing to house the 4th grade thus avoiding the massive cost of a new facility. My point being, it was suppose to be a building that could grow with our needs, but here we are having the issue of another bond for an entirely new building. Had I known that just a few short years after opening TMS and making the previously improvements the district would again be asking for another new building I would have voted no and pushed for a more comprehensive long term plan…but I digress.

I want what is best for the students in our district but just because someone votes no this time doesn't mean they don't (a vote against the bond is NOT a vote against our children) or that they wouldn't vote yes at another time. Note: Basehor passed their 2007 bond issue by a margin of 29 votes (let's not split hairs if that's not correct). I believe it was their third attempt at a bond issue in just a few years.

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artichokes 3 years, 6 months ago

For me, there are other issues that need to be addressed. What about out of district students sitting in our class rooms and utilizing our facilities. Yes, we get state aid ‘per pupil’, but they are also taking up space and that is what we as taxpayers are funding in a new building. How many out of district students do we have? Why are we not charging these children additional enrollment fees? The issue of additional staff and daily cost of running a new building needs to be addressed. Yes, state aid will help pay for that in the first few years. However, the state giveth, the state can easily taketh away...we are at the mercy of the legistalure and then there is whether the state has the ability to pay. If this happens, taxpayers will be held responsible for the difference. There are other costs…yes, staff (and it’s more than a secretary, custodian and kitchen staff…think administrator, nurse (are we going to have 2 nurses for 4 schools that are spread all over town?), utilities, etc. What are we going to do about class sizes? Yes, expanded facilities are needed and the natural light, a secure campus, new larger building will help with the space issue in regard to square footage per student…but what about class sizes? Decreasing class sizes means adding teachers….ahhhh, yes, that’s another money issue/source…but yet related nonetheless.

Although I do agree that it is a nominal monthly amount to many patrons, we absolutely must recognize that there are in fact patrons who $10-$15 a month (this is just for the school bond) matters. I consider the comment insensitive that “ if $X/month is the difference between a family making it or falling part, well, the sad truth is that it’s just a matter of time” disrespectful to the patrons who work hard and are doing everything possible to move forward in the face of difficult circumstances. People have lost jobs, taken pay cuts (or no or minimal raises for several years) and reworked their budgets just to keep their families afloat. What was once a budget with room to adjust has since become stifled by “needs only” budgeting. Yes, there are some who live on the financial edge all their life, but clearly those aren’t the families I’m referencing. Patrons and parents are constantly solicited for funds and not just the taxpayer kind…fundraisers, school events, etc. When household incomes take a hit and other cost of living continue to rise (gas, medical, insurance, enrollment/busing fees, taxes, etc) …it begins to put a strain on a budget and $10-$15 here and there adds up quickly. Plus, as a taxpayer the future additional cost per month for road improvements that will most certainly have to come if we are going to approve a new school near that cluster of a middle school is something to consider as well. The circumstances for these families will hopefully improve, but there have been several comments about the monthly amount to each taxpayer and some are fairly flippant.

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artichokes 3 years, 6 months ago

As one scrolls thru the commentary on this bond issue (not this article specifically, but overall) – it’s apparent that there is a lot of passion on both sides. As patrons, and as parents, we need to show respect to one another. There can be open conversation, opinions shared and facts clarified without all the…well, without all the sand throwing and sucker punching on the playground. Would we speak to one another in such a manner if our children were present?

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hricane23 3 years, 6 months ago

Artichokes,

Thanks for joining the discussion. Ironically, I've heard many of your questions and points from supporters of the issue. I'm going to post the next part in capital letters, not because I'm "yelling" at you, but because I want it to stand out for others, so they know they're invited, too...

THERE WILL BE AN INFORMATIONAL MEETING ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16th AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL!!! SUPERINTENDENT HAYDEN AND REPRESENTATIVES OF HTK ARCHITECTS WILL PRESENT AND RESPOND TO QUESTIONS!!! If you are on the fence, or have questions like artichokes, come and ask!

Finally, artichokes, in no way, shape, or form am I insensitive to the struggles many of our neighbors are currently facing. I see it every single day, and it doesn't get any easier. But in response to the argument that now is not the time because of the economy, I say hogwash, and I will point out what I see as flaws in that argument. As I've said since the beginning of the discussions, we have to throw the "sensitive feelings" out of it, and look at the cold hard facts. And I'm not going to sit idly by when someone uses their neighbors' struggles as an excuse to not pay more taxes. If someone were to say that they themselves didn't want to pay higher taxes because they themselves can't afford their house payment, well then, that's a different argument. But so far, no one has said that. They just make excuses.

So, come to the meeting on Wednesday, try to get answers to your questions (I think you'll be surprised about some of the answers!), and hopefully that will help you come down off the fence. Hope to see you there! But of course, I won't know if you're there or not. Unless you wear a shirt with pictures of artichokes on it or something. OOOHHHH! Can we do that?!?!? Let's all wear something that matches our monikers!

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artichokes 3 years, 6 months ago

I just used your quote – nothing personal. It’s been said several times in similar terms. I just think that it needed to be addressed.

My comment was given with the undertone of we, as fellow district patrons, need to realize that what seems nominal to one might not be to another. Period. I’m not a ‘sensitive feeling’ type of person and excuses make my blood boil. I am, however, someone who understands what it’s like to have struggled to make ends meet. The cold hard facts are that some people who would otherwise support this issue, might not vote for it because of the burden on their personal budgets…and I’m not talking about making house payments, for many of these families it’s could be about putting a quality balanced meal on the table, paying for a full tank of gas, a prescription or deciding about whether to buy their kid new shoes or pay for them to play a sport. Who knows because I’m certain that those who can’t afford the extra $10-$15 a month haven’t voiced their concern for numerous reasons – perhaps they don’t have the internet at home (budget cuts at home or maybe they don’t read these online conversations), perhaps they won’t verbalize their concern in public due to the reaction from their ‘neighbors’. It’s all feasible.

All that said, I don’t base my voting decisions on what my neighbors can or can not afford. Whether funding a school bond, library or city services. I do what best for my family first, my community second…sometimes they are one in the same, sometimes not.

P.S. I thought I had mentioned the meeting Wednesday, but apparently in all my copying and pasting it was lost (darn post length restrictions!). I do like the idea of themed shirts...hmmmm.

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JeepTJ 3 years, 6 months ago

How about we fix what is broken at TMS first; i.e. the poor traffic access in and out and get the students that walk out of Washington Street. I have yet to hear anyone address the fact that parents and bus traffic are having to drive in opposing lanes of traffic or out in the field following school every day. Once again we are putting the cart before the horse.

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momtongie 3 years, 6 months ago

JeepTJ- The bond issue will address those traffic issues at TMS.

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