Saturday, December 20, 2014

Another option for West Franklin

5/8/2013

I am very disappointed in the friction that the proposed bond issue has caused in the West Franklin school district. I don’t think anyone on either side has the intention of hurting the students or the district. Simply, there are two positions, and both feel their position is the best for the long term for our school district. I think we need to respect everyone’s opinion, as every person is entitled to an opinion and entitled to voice that opinion. It is very disappointing to see friendships lost and even friction within families. I would urge everyone to get past the emotions, respect everyone’s opinion and allow our democracy to work at deciding what is best for our school district.

I am opposed to the current bond proposal, however, I am not opposed to doing something. I think we do have needs to be addressed by a bond issue ultimately. However I think the current approach is not in the best interest of the school district.

I am very disappointed in the friction that the proposed bond issue has caused in the West Franklin school district. I don’t think anyone on either side has the intention of hurting the students or the district. Simply, there are two positions, and both feel their position is the best for the long term for our school district. I think we need to respect everyone’s opinion, as every person is entitled to an opinion and entitled to voice that opinion. It is very disappointing to see friendships lost and even friction within families. I would urge everyone to get past the emotions, respect everyone’s opinion and allow our democracy to work at deciding what is best for our school district.

I am opposed to the current bond proposal, however, I am not opposed to doing something. I think we do have needs to be addressed by a bond issue ultimately. However I think the current approach is not in the best interest of the school district.

I am puzzled by some of the information that we have been provided. The board has indicated that it can save at least $500,000 per year by completing this project. Yet there is very little specific information about where that money will be saved. Has there been a cost analysis completed on the increased utility costs for the new additions, or an estimate obtained on the increased insurance costs? Although it has been stated that we will cut several teaching and non-teaching jobs, I have never seen specifically what positions. I am not asking for whom, but what positions. Has it been considered what positions will need to be transferred or added for the new facilities?

A person on the “yes” committee recently said that the school district should be run like a business. I couldn’t agree more. If that is true, what business with $7 million in annual revenues would go to their stockholders and ask for over $14 million to save $500,000 per year? None! When we add the interest to the principal on the bond, we will spend $27,372,128. Therefore, if we save $500,000 per year, it will take over 54 years to recover our investment. To me, that is a very poor investment.

For schools in Kansas, virtually all revenue is derived based on enrollment. We have lost a third of our student population in the past decade, costing millions of dollars. The West Franklin schools superintendent estimated that we would lose 60 additional students because of this project. By itself that will more than offset any savings that might occur because of the consolidation.

One reason this bond issue has been rushed is to save the 25-percent state aid that we will receive on the bonds. However, if we lose those 60 students, we will not be getting 25-percent state aid. State aid on bonds is determined by district wealth. That is computed by dividing assessed valuation by enrollment. When you lose students, you become wealthier per student and therefore state aid goes down. We lose 25 to 30 students each year without the consolidation. At that rate, our state aid will be below 20 percent in a very few years. The mill levy increases to make up the difference.

Don’t be fooled by the talk of only adding 9 mills for the first year by not assessing the 4 mills that we currently pay on the capital outlay fund. Sooner or later, that fund will have to have income to maintain our facilities. During the final 29 years of the project, we will be paying somewhere closer to 15 mills.

Let’s vote this proposal down and come back with a much more reasonable solution and one that is given more thought, more time, and allows more patron input.

— James E. Cain,

Quenemo

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