Archive for Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Traffic study finds new streets not needed for intermediate school

HTK Architects' current renderings of the new Tonganoxie Intermediate School on the district's 80 acres, which is the same land where Tonganoxie Middle School was constructed following a successful 2004 bond issue.

HTK Architects' current renderings of the new Tonganoxie Intermediate School on the district's 80 acres, which is the same land where Tonganoxie Middle School was constructed following a successful 2004 bond issue.

March 16, 2011

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

A new intermediate elementary school on Tonganoxie USD 464’s south campus would not necessitate the construction of new streets, according to a traffic study the district commissioned.

A traffic study completed by the Overland Park firm of Olsson and Associates recommends additional turn lanes at two key intersections near the campus be constructed to help move the 1,032 additional vehicle entries and exits from the site expected each school day with the addition of the new school.

The new second- through fifth-grade school is the centerpiece of the $26.9 million bond issue that will be before district voters April 5. If the bond is approved, the school would open in August 2014 at 80 percent of its design capacity of 800 students.

Tonganoxie USD 464 Superintendent Kyle Hayden said the study was received in early March and forwarded to the city and now being reviewed by its engineering consultants.

The city and the school district have been engaged in discussions about the possible need for street upgrades associated with the opening of an intermediate elementary. That discussion included extension of East Street through the campus and the realignment of East Street north of Washington Street to match the roadway to the south, the extension of 14th Street from the campus to U.S. Highways 24-40, and upgrades on the highway at an intersection with 14th Street.

All told those projects carried a $4.6 million price tag, with the extension of 14th Street alone estimated at $2.28 million.

But the traffic study finds those improvements aren’t needed. It does, however, find the new school will slow traffic through key intersections on Washington Street — although not to the point to warrant traffic signals — and recommends improvements to the street and those on the campus to improve vehicle flow.

The internal campus improvements were figured into the bond’s $26.9 million total, USD 464 Superintendent Kyle Hayden said. The bond also has a built-in contingency that could contribute to the off-site improvements to Washington Street, he said.

Hayden also noted the size of the contingency would not be known until bond projects were bid.

Moreover, no cost estimates will be developed for the Washington off-site improvements until the city’s engineers finish their review. They could concur with the study’s finding or make further recommendations, he said.

There is no commitment from the city or the county (Washington Street is Leavenworth County Road 6 and the county is responsible for its maintenance) to help with the Washington Street turn lanes, but the district would welcome their partnership, Hayden said.

The Tonganoxie City Council will hear a presentation from its engineers on the study at its March 28 meeting.

Among the internal campus improvements covered by the bond issue are:

• Addition of an east turn lane on East Street south of Washington Street.

• Extension of East Street south to a new parking lot/student drop point south of the new intermediate school.

• An additional loop at the middle school’s east parking lot/student drop point.

• Converting Starla Street on the campus to a two-way street.

Hayden said the later three projects would separate bus traffic from morning and afternoon parent traffic and allow for better flow of drop-off/pick-up traffic.

Recommended improvements to Washington Street adjacent to the campus include:

• A 200-foot eastbound right-turn lane on Washington Street to Starla Court.

• A 150-foot westbound left-turn lane on Washington to Starla Court.

• A 150-foot eastbound right-turn lane on Washington to East Street.

• A 150-foot westbound left-turn lane on Washington to East Street.

The recommendations were developed through a study of six intersections, including the Washington Street intersections at Pleasant Drive, Pleasant Street, Starla Court and East Street. Traffic counts were taken at morning and afternoon school rush periods on two January days. “Level of service” rankings were assigned based on the time it took to complete turns during morning and evening peak hours.

The study then projects the level of service at the same intersections with the additional 360 morning and 224 afternoon entries and exits predicted when the new intermediate school reaches its 800 design capacity enrollment.

The study found it currently took from 16 to 25 seconds to complete turns onto Washington Street from Pleasant Street during mornings and evenings, the same length of time to turn west on Washington Street from Starla Court in the afternoon and all turns movements on from East Street except east turns in the morning. Waits of 50 seconds or more to make some turns onto Washington at Starla Court, Delaware and East streets could be expected with the opening of the new school, the study found.

The study made no recommendations of improvements with the addition of a third school on the campus — an 800-student enrollment elementary school estimated to be needed in eight to nine years — because it is unknown how much more growth could occur in the area.

The discussion of the past three months about the possible need to extend East and 14th streets and upgrade the US 24-40/14th Street intersection — which included a city council review of the creation of a benefit district — would be valuable and should continue as the city looked toward development on its south side, Hayden said.

Comments

Old_Vet 3 years, 9 months ago

City priorities: Swimming pool Fourth street to nowhere Where should its priorities be? Public safety. Instead of the swimming pool they should have fixed the problem of city hall and the police station. They made business owners pay for new sidewalks downtown but then paid for sidewalks themselves along residential routes. The city wouldn't know how to make a good decision and now they are going to involve themselves in the USDs business.

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only1 3 years, 9 months ago

Since it was removed once, I'll post again... RUN FOR COUNCIL!... or continue to gripe about everything. One takes initiative, one doesn't.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

Let's look at the positive side... the City doesn't need to make a new street! At least, not right away. That's good news, right?

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

Only1: You are beginning to sound like a broken record. This nation has historically been a nation of people's voices rising up to enact change. Our representative form of govt is based on people listening to their constituents and acting on behalf of these constituents. Each and every person who has a concern does NOT need to be a councilman, senator, governor, whatever, in order to raise concerns. The worse type of government (at any level) is a group of people who each have a personal agenda--and that is basically what you propose. If you have a concern, get into government and enact it.

Wrong.

A concern may motivate a person to run for office but once there, our REPRESENTATIVE form of government demands that each person listen to their constituents. I do not want a bunch of elected officials running around with axes to grind.

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only1 3 years, 9 months ago

Funny. I think it's you that's the broken record. Gripe about everything, but do nothing to find a solution. The founders of our country were doers, not gripers. Be a part of solution or be a part of the problem. If you choose to gripe and not act, then you are a big part of the problem. If the truth hurts, so be it, but I for one am tired of all of the negativity and the 1st amendment gives me the right to express it.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

You've checked into the looney ward now. I have no idea how you extrapolated my critical response to your supposition into me challenging your 1st amendment rights but...wow.

I'll try go slower this time: the vocalization of a concern does not equal griping. The enacting of a personal agenda does not equal progress or "good" involvement. The Founders of our nation may have been "doers" but for each man at Independence Hall signing that document declaring our freedom from England, there were thousands of people vocalizing their discontent in various ways. Were all of those people "gripers"? In your world, they were.

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only1 3 years, 9 months ago

LOL... Maybe I am looney for arguing with the head loon. Responding to average citizens answers to opinion questions with "the sky is falling" type messages on numerous occasions. I tell you what, you keep on keepin' on. Good luck. Let me know when you have the worlds problems solved on the message board.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

Dare I say it... You're both right!

I think Only1's thoughts are that people should get more involved in the political process; more than just griping on a message board. In Old_Vet's defense, no one can say that he isn't well-informed on the topics he mentions or isn't involved in the process, unless you know him personally.

And Jason2007, you're absolutely correct in not wanting someone in office with an axe to grind, and that our government (at least, in theory, perhaps) is based on the people's voice, and our elected officials listening to and acting upon those voices. However, I think you would agree that to expect change, it should take more than a message board on the Mirror. Look at Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. While there's no doubt the internets played a crucial role in enacting change, there were a few other more "active" things that really brought it about.

But we digress... Hey! School Bond = YES!

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only1 3 years, 9 months ago

You said it well. My point is that you aren't going to get anywhere by griping on a small Kansas newspaper message board. Mr. Negativity (Jason)responds to so many articles, some who are average citizens giving their opinions to questions, and tries to force his negative view of education and America on everyone . I don't care for people who want to sit back and criticize everyone and everything.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

Do you dream about me at night? The level of obsession with my "negativity" and "griping" is almost frightening. If I bug you so badly, ignore me.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

A message board is only one avenue by which a concern is voiced. I regularly write my representatives in both state and federal governments and attend county commissioner meetings (I don't actually live in the city so my preferred involvement in local govt is at the county level). I volunteer in non-profit causes to the point where I am almost over-committed.

I tweet to my congress reps, I've even been known to make a beeline to them after they finish shaking hands in the LV CO parade on election years to "bend their ears" a bit.

I just don't get how some people respond to critical observations and valid concerns with "get involved!" Who in the world are they (Only1, I'm looking at you) to judge anyone's level of involvement based on a message board post? Seems quite arrogant to me.

And before I forget, School Bond = No, in the absence of any meaningful education reform.

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only1 3 years, 9 months ago

And who in the world are you to question someone's opinion which you do quite often. Then throw in the fact that you judge all educators, etc... Not only are you arrogant, your hypocritical. You don't like me because I challenge your hypocritical, ignorant views. I'm fine with that.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

It's "you're" not your. Public Education has struck again.

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only1 3 years, 9 months ago

Nice comeback. You are so sharp.... Still ignorant.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

Sniff, sniff My feelings have been forever trampled.

Since you are the paragon of insight into a person's soul and know exactly how informed and educated I am from across the keyboard, perhaps your talents would best be used in Langley, VA by our CIA. They could use a person of your obvious gifts!

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Old_Vet 3 years, 9 months ago

I'm curious if our board members that represent the constituents of the city are in constant contact with the city administrator and council? Does the council reach out to these board members to find common ground for the citizens of Tongie? Why hasn’t the city leadership stepped up and endorsed this bond?

Who do we want to move to Tonganoxie? Do we want young families with children; families that will grow and build this community? What is a lure for these families to choose Tongie? Nice schools, schools where children are not attending class in the hallway. Schools that can accommodate persons with disabilities. Schools that foster a healthy learning environment. The recommended space per pupil is 145 square feet. Our elementary school has a whopping 93 square feet per pupil, and a likelihood it will be at 83 square feet per pupil in 3 years. We have a definite need for space, it is a fact. What is subjective is our priority as a community to meet this need.

The solution is to build a new school. A mil levy increase will jump from the lowest in a three county area at 54 mils to an average mil levy as compared to other districts at 63 mils. Who will benefit if our mil levy remains at 54? We may not attract families with children. However we might attract older persons, persons on fixed income, most likely retirees.

Will young families move to Tongie knowing that our mil levy (property tax) is average and our schools are state of the art? Would these families want to save 13 dollars a month and put their child in an overcrowded school or would they just move somewhere else?

We have staked much of our future on the industrial parks to the north and to the south of Tongie. If we are successful in bringing businesses to Tongie who are they going to look to employ? Retirees or young workers?

Both groups are vital to our future, but I have always held to the belief that we as a community were attempting to lure young families to reside in our town. We are in all appearances attempting to foster growth. So again, why haven’t the city leaders lent their support to this bond?

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

Good points, Old_Vet, and thanks for getting back to the topics!

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Old_Vet 3 years, 9 months ago

hricane23, I was a little peeved in my first post. I just can't grasp why the city leaders have chosen to put public entertainment (swimming pool) ahead of public safety (police). They spent most of our money on projects to beautify this community (Fourth street) and increase the quality of life for a few (swimming pool). The third major expenditure was for the land south of the city. To entice business the city must show a capability to provide an adequate work force. Of course Lawrence, Leavenworth and Kansas City are within commuting distance, but we want jobs for Tonganoxie residents, we want these people to move here. The city appears to have been fighting this bond issue at every step and if I am wrong they are at the least not supporting it openly. The city leaders are not being consistent in their message and their vision for Tonganoxie. It appears the only leadership in the community is coming from the school board. Those opposing this project are unorganized, uncivil and uninformed. What does Connie O'Brien think about the bond issue and schools? Senator Tom Holland? Where are their quotes in the newspaper?

We have candidates for the School board and City Council that have campaigned negatively against the bond issue. They have emphatically proclaimed "no taxes". However, they have failed to provide an alternative solution that is reasonable. Just saying no tax increase will not alleviate the overcrowding. I hope I can attend the candidate forum at the VFW next week to hear the naysayers. I would like to ask them what their solution is to this problem. What their vision is for Tonganoxie.

Those against the bond, please give me/us an alternative that is realistic. A thoughtful response appreciated, I really don't want to hear the tired mantra of "wait til times get better", cause they 'aint' getting better for some time. So where do we put the children.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

I hope to see you at the VFW meeting. I'll be wearing a little red number, with a tulip in my hair. Just kidding. I don't look good in red. But I look alright in green and orange.

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JerryB 3 years, 9 months ago

In terms of what would bring young families to our city/district, I'd wager that a simpler and cheaper move that would bring even more young & responsible families to our area would be significant education reform, rather than simply more spending.

By reform, just a few basics would be (1) Boot poor quality teachers that have remained in this district for decades but are all but enshrined in the schools by union protections (and are the most expensive teachers to keep, as they're highest on the pay scale), (2) Entice new, vibrant, motivated teachers by committing to pay them based on merit, rather than based on how long they've been in the district, and (3) Hire an administration that cared about enacting a policy supportive of discipline and personal responsibility, rather than sweeping drug, weapons, and violent discipline issues under the rug. And that'd just be for starters.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

JerryB, you're sounding a lot like Jason2007. How come we never see you both in the same room? I kid, I kid.

But seriously, your "suggestions" do absolutely nothing for the problems this bond issue addresses. Firing poor quality teachers and addressing any alleged drug/ violence issues does absolutely zero, nothing, nada for the overcrowding and safety issues. Enticing "new, vibrant, motivated" teachers is going to be pretty tough with that elementary school. "Hey! Come work here! We've got a nice new desk set up for you in the hallway! And your kids are piled on top of each other, just the way you like 'em!"

Yeah, you're comments are pretty similar to Jason2007's, who's not just against this bond issue, but COMPLETELY AGAINST THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM AS IT IS TODAY. (Caps are for emphasis, Jason, not a dig. We're still cool!) And again, just as in the previous installments on this issue, you seem to be holding a grudge.

First, it was moaning about the District's newsletter informing parents of the bond issue. Now, it's moaning about old teachers protected by the teacher's union. WAIT!!! Even you realize that the teacher's are protected by the union, so how is that the District's fault? Oh, let's nevermind that little nugget, because it's all about your grudge, after all!

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kanfarmer 3 years, 9 months ago

Jerry hit the nail on the head. Not only does the school sweep those issues "under the rug". The Mirror knows about the issues and fails to report them. Why doesn't the Mirror report the news?

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gotongie 3 years, 9 months ago

Okay, fire the bad teachers, pay for merit, hire better admin......how does this help overcrowding again? I'm not following.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

You beat me to it! I should learn not to type so much if I want to get the jab in!

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JerryB 3 years, 9 months ago

I never claimed it would alleviate overcrowding...but until I see more responsible moves made by the administration/board with our taxpayer dollars, I'm not inclined to write them another multi-million dollar blank check.

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ClarkKent 3 years, 9 months ago

You guys need to ignore Jason 2007! From what I can gather he doesn't even live in the Tonganoxie school district!

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

Ironic how Jason2007 told everyone on the last installment to watch a film called "Waiting For Superman"! Get it? Cause mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent just broke this news story? AmIRight?

Jason2007... your rebuttal, good sir.

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Jason Bailey 3 years, 9 months ago

ClarkKent: I live in the school district but outside of city limits...there is a difference.

And....it's good to see there are others who agree that reform is needed before another dollar is extracted from my pocket and handed over to the school district.

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ClarkKent 3 years, 9 months ago

I find that interesting that you say you live in the Tonganoxie School District. There is a Jason2007 who consistently rails on the City of Basehor and the Basehor-Linwood School District over the sewer issue at Glenwood Estates and Trash services within the city. I'm just wondering if there are two of you or if you're just constantly stirring the pot?

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Old_Vet 3 years, 9 months ago

Over the past several years USD 464 has shown improvement in all areas. Each year the district has done better on assessment tests. Each year the district is at or above the state averages in all areas. Just a couple of years ago we had several students with ACT scores in the 30s. Each year we have ACT scores above the state average. Reform? Reform what?

Sounds to me like those calling for reform are looking at the macro solution to education. In this district the teachers appear to have solved the problem. We may have one or two teachers that are not performing at the level they should be. I trust that our building principles are working with them to correct these issues. We the public will probably never know who or what because of privacy laws to protect the district from litigation and the individuals rights to due process.

So those of you calling for reform, exactly how would you apply it to USD 464?

Waiting for a reply that is informed and provides a solution to our overcrowding issue. We don't need accusations of "reform" because that doesn't solve overcrowding. We don't need to hear "wait til times are better" because that won't alleviate the problem of overcrowding. I sincerely want to hear a solution that will satisfy the space requirement.

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JerryB 3 years, 9 months ago

"we the public will probably never know..." - that sentence is very telling. You're exactly right - due to the protections and 'rights' generated by the union, we'll never likely know the breadth and depth of the incompetence of some of our teachers. The teachers we pay with tax dollars to educate our children.

No one here ever claimed that education reform would resolve overcrowding issues, but as mentioned above, it is difficult for many in this community to be willing to sign another multi-million dollar blank check for this administration when there's no real evidence that fiscal or educational reform has occurred since the last bond issue.

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Old_Vet 3 years, 9 months ago

"We may never know" because of that pesky document called the US constitution. Due process is the law of the land and the privacy act protects individuals from undue invasion of privacy. When you get our constitution amended to allow for more transparency then you might get to know everyone elses business. Good luck.

Your red herrings are getting tiresome.

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JerryB 3 years, 9 months ago

Protecting the identities of incapable, inefficient teachers has nothing to do with the Constitution; rather it has everything to do with protections the unions have built into the contracts that the school boards have agreed to during negotiations.

There are other districts with more transparent records policies which allow for publication & dissemination of much more information than our district allows. The existence of such transparency policies serve as a demonstration that there is no constitutionally-rooted privacy protection surrounding employment/performance records of public employees as you claim.

Due process--the right to a pre-determined procedure and the right to a hearing to air the grievances--is a right that no one is disputing and additionally has nothing to do with the shroud of secrecy that currently protects poor-performing teachers in this and in other districts.

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momtongie 3 years, 9 months ago

JerryB, you say there has been no real evidence that fiscal or educational reform has occurred since the last bond issue? Have you been paying attention?

Since that time, there has been complete turnover in the administration, building and district level. Due to the cuts by KSDE, Tonganoxie has had to cut millions of dollars out of their budget, while doing their best to keep those cuts out of the classroom and directly affecting kids. While making these huge financial cuts, they have managed to increase test scores each year!

Speaking of financial issues, the new administration is very transparent, communicating very openly about all finances- something the old administration appeared to hide or had no communication about. Starting in a financial "hole" the new administration has had to "do more with less", yet has brought the district out of the hole AND kept up with the state education funding crisis!

Education reform, as you speak of it, is an undertaking that cannot be accomplished by one district and must take place at a national AND state level. Tonganoxie is doing its best to meet the educational needs of all of its students.

Back to the issue of overcrowding, I'm with Old Vet: still waiting for a reply that is informed and provides a solution to the overcrowding issue. Stop trying to make this about someone's personal soapbox issue.

I'm voting YES because the community committee (yes, I said the community) came up with the best solution to the overcrowding issue, presented it to the board of education, and now it's up for a vote. Those who don't like the plan had every opportunity to be on that community committee (it was advertised in the Mirror for every meeting). If you don't like this plan, vote no, be on the planning committee for the next time, and pay more because costs WILL go up! The time is now. I'm voting YES!

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

Old_Vet,

In response to your earlier question about where our city leaders are on this issue, I know that Dennis Bixby is adamantly against the issue. In fact, in inviting patrons to the public meeting at the VFW, he threw in the nice jab that the District has declined a debate at the meeting.

I've breezed through Mr. Bixby's Facebook page, and I got EXTREMELY frustrated. Mr. Bixby has used his personal Facebook page to spread his rhetoric, all under the security of only accepting "friends". If Mr. Bixby is so open to debate, why isn't the Facebook page open to everybody? Why can't I debate any issues without being a "friend"? I don't want to be "friends", and I can reasonably assume that I wouldn't be "de-friended" pretty quickly, anyway.

So, since this is the only way I can personally react to Mr. Bixby's claim that the District has avoided a debate with him...

I don't know about the campaign "rules", but I know that the District (contrary to what JerryB will tell you) has taken an "informational" approach to the campaign. It's people like me, people that are independent from the District, that have gone throughout this community with signs, in the parade, etc. Superintendent Kyle Hayden has spoken at various meetings, but I think you'd find his communication to be informational, as opposed to political. The informational meetings have given EVERY opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, be against the issue, or even as was the case at an earlier meeting at the VFW, yell, scream, and curse. The suggestion that the District has avoided debate is pretty much true. It's because the District has tried to remain transparent throughout, unlike candidates that protect their rhetoric from the comfort of their own "friends".

Well, I WILL be at the VFW meeting, and I'm fully willing to talk about how I feel about the bond issue.

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kanfarmer 3 years, 9 months ago

gotongie.....Do you spend millions of dollars on new buildings and put bad teachers and adminstrators that dont care in it? We need a new grade school. We shouldn't spend any money on the high school until the problems are fixed.. I am voteing no. sending a message to the board.. Wake up, fix our school.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

kanfarmer,

So, you don't agree with everything included in the project. That's understandable. But you must recognize that the committee worked on identifying needs and determining solutions for more than 2 years, and despite all of that hard work, no plan will please everybody. There is no perfect solution. But as Old_Vet and others have asked, do you have a better plan to present?

And do you understand how much your "no" vote will cost? The bulk of this project is the elementary school. Let's say that piece alone costs $20 million. So, let's say we wait two or three years to do just the elementary school. During that time, interest rates rise 2% over the historically low rates of right now, construction costs go up, as material prices, labor costs, and fuel costs continue to go up, and the State has eliminated the program that would provide aid for projects like this. Suddenly, just building the elementary school costs a whole lot more than the opportunity we have in front of us right now.

If you truly understand the needs of the elementary, then I urge you to consider the financial aspects of this project compared to the financial implications of waiting.

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Pinpoint 3 years, 9 months ago

I think that the majority of the people who are opposed to the bond issue realize that something needs to be done about the overcrowding of the schools. However, you cannot convince me that there is not a better solution that cost less than 29.6 million dollars. We are still paying on the prior bond issue and the swimming pool. And from what I have heard there is a strong possibility that the school board will approach again in 2014 for another bond issue. Yes something needs to be done, however, teaching our kids fiscal responsibility should also be considered as well. I feel that the school needs to go back and strongly focus on doing more for less.

To the people who reply that it is only an additional $12/mo... My response is that it is still my $12 and that it is not just going to end up being an additional $12. There are other costs to be concerned with. Plus if you are a family living on one income, unemployed, or a fixed income $12+ per month is a large expenditure.

I have two children, one that attends Tongie schools and one that currently does not. The child that has attended various schools though out the years, due to special needs, no longer attends Tongie schools. I have found that the schools that have benefited our family the most is not the local school district. And it was not due to the lack of space, but due to the quality of education. The schools that have benefited us are focus on the quality for all kids in education; many of their buildings were old and overcrowded as well. But the focus remained on the kids at all times. Not how much each child contributed to their bottom line.

Yes - overcrowding in Tongie Schools are an issue. And yes it needs to be address, but not at 29.6 million dollars.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

Yes, $26.9 million is a lot of cash. There's no doubting that. But since it's been awhile since I went out shopping for school buildings, I thought I'd try to find out what some other local communities have paid for new schools.

Leavenworth passed a $57.8 million bond in 2008. This bond paid for improvements to the high school that included A/C, heating, windows, security system updates, science labs, technology, a performing arts center, and a news sports complex. Additionally, a new elementary school was built, improvements to 2 others were made, and 2 schools were closed down. Interesting how these projects sound pretty similar to the combined projects of this issue and the past bond issue.

Lansing passed a $40-something million bond a couple years ago. Through this bond, they also built a new elementary school, and closed 2. The Leavenworth County Special Ed Coop moved into one of those buildings, giving it the space needed to offer more services. Perhaps the same services you're so happy with, Pinpoint. By the way, did you know that our Early Childhood Special Needs students are bused to Linwood, because there's no room for them in town?

Eudora passed a $45 million bond in 2007. Again, this bond provided for a new elementary school for 1st through 5th grades, a new technical education system, and a new district stadium.

DeSoto passed a $72 million bond in 2008 that included improvements to schools, including a massive addition to Mill Valley High in Shawnee, a school that was built less than 10 years earlier.

Basehor-Linwood passed a $39.9 million bond in 2007 for a new elementary and middle school. An interesting sidenote on this one is that they turned down a $22.9 million bond two years before, then paid $39.9 million. I'm not sure how much new stuff was included in the second plan that wasn't in the first, but I'm guessing like our deal, it would've been cheaper to have just done it the first time.

And finally, in the sake of transparency, I will admit that Baldwin seems to have gotten the most bang for their buck. They passed a $22.9 million bond in 2008 that gave them a new elementary, a 600-seat performing arts center, and some baseball fields.

So there you go. That's what new schools have cost our neighbors over the last couple of years. $26.9 million doesn't seem quite so out of line now, does it?

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kanfarmer 3 years, 9 months ago

Before anyone votes on the bond.. Please look and the last bond. The school board knew when they pushed the bond to build the middle school, the grade school would be over crowded in less then 2 years. So why did they push so hard to build it? They knew in 2 years they could say." oh my look at all of those poor grade school kids in the over crowded building". They knew before the first bond was passed there would have to be another new building built. Our mony was spend unwisely and now they want alot more. Its time the taxpayers stand up and tell them enough is enough. If the bond passes the board with spend the money as they see fit.. Again look a history, look and the 100,000"s of taxpayers dollars that were wasted on the middle school and high school.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

I wasn't in town during the last bond issue. However, as I understand it, the plan was and always has been to complete everything in phases. The middle school was Phase 1, and this is Phase 2. And yes, there may very well be a Phase 3. Was that the best plan when this started? Maybe, maybe not. But it's sure a lot easier to swallow than a $70-$80 million project at one time.

But regardless, this argument I've heard from you and JerryB, the one about "teaching a lesson" is in the least misguided and expensive, and at it's worst, potentially dangerous and destructive.

Whether you like the Administration or not, there is no denying the needs of the elementary school. The high school's needs may not be as recognizable or even as urgent as the elementary, but they do exist. And despite all of your best efforts, voting no on this bond will not get any of the high school teachers you seem to have such a big problem with fired. Instead, voting no will prolong the problems we're trying to correct, will cost more money in three years, and you'll still be griping about the teachers and drug/ violence issues you allege.

Again, consider this... waiting 2 or 3 years WILL COST US ALL MILLIONS of dollars! MILLIONS! I find it ironic that the same people who tell you they have our neighbor's pocketbooks in mind on this issue, who say let's wait for the economy to get better, don't realize that when it does get better we'll all be paying that much more.

And kanfarmer, by all means, continue your quest to make changes in personnel or in any other issues you see, but DO NOT sacrifice the community's future during your crusade.

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kanfarmer 3 years, 9 months ago

hricane23. So you have 3 years of experences of our schools to draw up on? Wow. There was never any "phase". If you had lived here longer you would have known the old middle school, 'west high school now" was built so that when needed it could be expanded . Why wasnt it? the mold problem might have something to do with that. In your 3 years of experence you know only what you have "heard". belive me there are alot of us with a few more then 3 years of living here that know how many promises have been broken and money wasted...... 40+ yrs here........

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

No, I have a proud 5 1/2 years to draw upon! And while I realize that I don't know the full history of everything that's happened in the last 40+ years, I realize that that history has put us in this situation. And while I have relied on "hearsay", the people I've heard from have been in town for decades, and have been part of the school board, past and present. I'm not talking out my rear end, based on a just a few years of my own observations. Heck, under your assessment, the Superintendent doesn't know anything, either! He's only been here 3 years!

But thanks for bringing up another point. This town has grown 86% over the last 10 years, and one thing I've noticed several times over my 5 1/2 years, is that there's not a lot of love for people like me. Despite my wife working in the community even before we moved to town, I'm somehow still an "urban sprawler", and not a "local". Well, fortunately, the growth is continuing, and like it or not, us "city slickers" are going to have a voice in the future of the community, too.

So, whether you've been here for 40+ years, or here for 6 months, we're all in this together. We're all here to make this the best community to live in, to raise kids in, to play in, to do whatever we want to in. So, if you're against this bond because of what's happened over the last 40+ years, well, I hope you can sleep soundly while you sacrifice the town's future over your petty grievances.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

Look, I get the whole idea of not wanting to pay more taxes. I understand that there are pieces of government that are broken. But we're not talking about saying "no" to a "bridge to nowhere". We're not turning down funding for $100,000 toilet in some government building. We're talking about funding a real life, you can see it you can touch it, school building of our very own. Is it "for the kids"? Well, of course. Is it ONLY for the kids? No, it's for the community. It's for our community's growth. It's for our community's education. It's for our community's advancement. And, it's for our community's financial savings (as compared to waiting). I don't "want" to pay more taxes, but I'm absolutely 100% happier paying for something that I can actually see the benefits of. We're not talking about paying more so the District can spend and live "out of their means". We're not passing this bond to give raises to anybody. The people that will benefit from this are...surprise!... Ourselves! That's a pretty novel idea. Paying for something that benefits us.

So, hate the Administration all you want. Hate the teachers, and hate the cost, and hate the economy, and hate the liberals, and hate the Tea Partiers, and hate the Christian Conservatives, and hate people on welfare, and hate me, and hate whoever or whatever else you want. I realize I can't change the haters' minds.

But the rest of you... Please look at the facts, the needs, the solutions, the financial benefits of doing this now rather than later. If after all of that, you disagree with saying "yes", then so be it.

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Old_Vet 3 years, 9 months ago

We have to show some foresight and be prepared. It is a fact right now that we are overcrowded and that includes the mobile homes and quonset hut we use at TES.

Foresight (Definition) 1. Perception of the significance and nature of events before they have occurred. 2. Care in providing for the future; prudence. 3. The act of looking forward.

If we don't build now it will cost us many millions more in only a few years. If this bond fails those that voted against it will be the ones blaming this superintendant and this board for not building now. I can see it as plain as day.

If another building must be built in five years then what? We build it! If this bond had money in it to carry the district past five years then JerryB and Kanfarmer would be screaming "waste" and "overbuilding", etc. I regret that reasonable, thoughtful discussion with them is beyond hope as they are vested emotionally as opposed to being open to reason.

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JerryB 3 years, 9 months ago

When the current Middle School was built in ~2005 or so, wasn't it built with the idea that they could add on to the end of each wing?

If I recall correctly, it was going to be constructed in an "X" shape such that new classrooms could be easily & inexpensively added on to the end of each wing to expand the usable classroom space for grades 4-8 which are currently in it. That was one of the selling points for the community -- that later expansion would be easier and less expensive since the core building was already there and we'd simply increase capacity with additional rooms.

But now instead we're talking about another new building.

Rather than building a new elementary what will siphon off some of those students, is there an explanation that has been made as to why we are not adding on to those wings as originally discussed back in 2004/05?

Excuse my oversight if this question has already been answered by the Board but I didn't come across an explanation in the previously-published information about the bond issue.

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kanfarmer 3 years, 9 months ago

This vote is about money. will it be spent wisely? Look at what happened last time. Is no one looking back 3 years? If we build, it should last at least 10 years. We should build a grade school that will take care of our kids for that long. Not pay for 1,000"s of dollars on a etching for the high school. The superintendent was not a bit shy about wanting that. Its just the taxpayers money. If we vote for a school then the money should be spent for classrooms. Not art work to hang on the side of the building. REMERBER!!!!!!!! Once you vote to give the board money they will spent is as they want.. Look at the past.
hircane23 and old vet, I want a new school! We need a new school.. Our kids should have a new school. But spenting money on the high school when it should go to the grade school is not smart.. We need a board it understands how hard the taxpayers work for there money. I want a new school. I dont want to watch my money wasted as it was last time. hircane .... our board didnt pay 100.000 for a toilet. They payed 100.000 for a computer to control heating and cooling. I was in the middle school library in june after the school was built. It was 63 degrees in there and no one could shut off the air cond. The next june the heater ran the whole month. No one could get it to shut off.. Who payed the bills? you and I did. The board knew the computer wasnt working right but they payd the contracter. Its just taxpayers money. They ended up putting in a different type of control. 100.000 thrown away. Yea, i want give the board 20+ millions give way what ever they want. NO WAY!

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

I'm going to say it again, okay? You're grudge with the District over any past issues, or over the high school piece of this project, will cost the taxpayers millions more. You're upset about a $100k computer system that didn't work. Sometimes, the best laid plans of mice and men have some hiccups. No plan will be 100% pleasing. But you have to weigh the pros and the cons. If you agree that we need a new elementary school, if you agree that there are problems that this bond issue will correct, then you have to ask yourself if those solutions are worth spending a portion of this on the high school. Here are our two options:

Option A: Pass the bond and get some needed repairs. Although some will be unhappy about some pieces of the plan.

Option B: Don't pass the bond, don't get a new school, get even more overcrowded, and maybe consider doing this again when it costs $10 million+ more. And maybe then, ONLY maybe, will you be satisfied enough to give it your blessing.

Finally, consider this, it's estimated that the state aid will contribute more than $9 million for the total project. I imagine that's more than the high school piece of this plan. Consider this as a sale at the school store. Buy a grade school, get some high school improvements!

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straightup 3 years, 9 months ago

It's not 100% that we will get the state aid!! If I were a gambler I would say we won't. State cuts!!!! Remember. Lets be honest.

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hricane23 3 years, 9 months ago

From what I understand, Straightup, the aid package is in place for projects approved NOW. There is pending legislation to at least decrease the percentage, and if I were to gamble, I'd bet the funds will mostly disappear for future projects.

I wasn't at the last informational meeting, but my wife was. And she has told me that she believes Connie O'Brien said that this project would be eligible for the aid funding if the bond is approved. Now, I will admit that not even I take my wife's word for granted. Just kidding, honey bunny! So , in the meantime, why don't we ask that question at the VFW Meet the Candidate forum? Or why don't we call the District Offices to ask the question? I think we'd all agree that it's better to get answers to these very important questions than to rely on speculation, right?

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kanfarmer 3 years, 9 months ago

hricane23 I dont have all nite to explane last bonds screw ups so I will just hit high points. The board hired a board member to "buy supplies" on the internet. NO checks and balances. Just a open check book. Paying the board member 50.00 per hour to "look" for bargains. Then after he got these great bargains the board payed him 50.00 per hour to fix the junk he bought.. Ask a board memebr for the aduit of what was bought and what it was worth after his "fee'. I already ask there wasnt one. Ask how much of that junk was thrown away? how much os still in,"storage". How much of the junk is in pieces and will never be put together? At a board meeting some members talked about things being bought for what wal-mart charges, and not having to pay anyone 50.00 an hour. The price of that joke was 98,000? That dosent count the junk the wasnt used and will never be used..

What about the internet cable that was pulled though the building. Some of the lines were never put in. Some were scraped and wouldnt. work. but he was payed. The teachers that were payed to build tables on there own time. But students did some of the work. So the teachers were payed to teach and payed to build all at the same time? They were told not to do that but did.
You think a 100k is a hiccup? Are you kidding.. I make less that 40k. Have you ever thrown 100k away? My "gruge" over the high school is. WE JUST SPENT MILLIONS on it.. There is even a coffee shop in it.. What else so they want a spa? They need a sicence up grade? OK then they should have did it last time and not put in a lounge and coffee shop. Oh they need a vocal music room. Didnt we already build one? What happened to it? Answer me that. I know the answer do you. The answer is one ot the things that is very wrong with the way the high school is being managed. You vote yes, I vote no. So i guess its up to the other voters.

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gotongie 3 years, 9 months ago

kanfarmer and JerryB-- Former board members, former superintendent--happened over four years ago. Move on.
There was no "new" vocal room built. Over forty students are currently housed in a regular classroom. The "coffee shop" is part of an entreprenuer class. More importantly, it is a student activity room that improves school climate, culture, and improves attendance. If you want to talk about the high school, let's talk about how much better the students there do now than they used to. Kudos to the current administration for having vision and doing what's right for kids. I guess in the good old days people were forced to resign for unethical behavior (affairs, stealing....).
Sorry to say, you were probably told the wrong thing in the past bond election about "building on". Maybe that's why we have a new superintendent, new board members, and a new architect on this project. Perhaps instead of you bemoaning the "wrongdoings" of the last bond, you should have been on the planning committee back then. Once again, move on.
By the way, just out of curiousity, did you attend Tonganoxie schools, "kanfarmer"?

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Old_Vet 3 years, 9 months ago

Kanfarmer, The board member who did the purchasing online was replaced. The board that was in place six years ago when the previous bond issue was passed is gone, replaced. The superintendent that oversaw the bond and the subsequent construction, replaced. You are correct in that many of us in and around Tonganoxie were upset. I too was led to believe that we could add on to the new middle school. I too thought we had solved the science lab issue. We didn't and I assume that is part of the reasons why the last superintendent was released.

The current board hired a technology expert to administer the technology department. The new superintendent and board convened a facilities committee two years ago to study the overcrowding issue. The facilities committee was organized with persons throughout the community. Volunteers showed up to meetings to provide input. Consultants were available to provide their expertise. The entire community was encouraged to participate and find a solution. Nothing was done in secret. I attended a meeting to see what was happening. During the meeting they discussed delaying the proposed project. They did, for two years.

Has money been misspent? Probably some of it. The community has replaced the members of the board who affected the district over those years you are writing about. This board has cut spending, has frozen salaries, reduced purchasing and saved millions.

This is not a good time for a bond in the sense that the economy is struggling. However interest rates are at an all time low, construction costs reasonable, state aid is still available, and most important, a new building is a necessity. In two or three years when we move into the building assuming a bond passes we may have a hundred more students. We do not have room for that number right now. If we deny out of district enrollment we are only forestalling the inevitable. We'll still be overcrowded in two years.

It has been six years since the last bond election. Eight years since it was conceived. We have had 89% growth over the past ten years. It doesn’t seem like a long time. We have been one of the fastest growing communities in Kansas. Our schools are trying to keep up with the demand caused by this growth.

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