Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bond costs

5/17/2013

Do you think it’s a good idea to vote on the West Franklin school bond without looking at the proposed project costs? The school district needs some improvements, but there are other projects in the proposal that are completely wasteful and poorly thought out. When this proposal was put together, “common sense” took a holiday.

Look below at the partial list of projects to be funded by the proposed school bond, which is set for a June 4 vote. Also, look at the proposed costs plus interest expense. This information has not been sent out or made readily available to the public. As such, unless you take the time to “hunt it up,” you are buying into some things that I suspect you might find surprising. I originally found this information on the school district website, but it was removed.

Do you think it’s a good idea to vote on the West Franklin school bond without looking at the proposed project costs? The school district needs some improvements, but there are other projects in the proposal that are completely wasteful and poorly thought out. When this proposal was put together, “common sense” took a holiday.

Look below at the partial list of projects to be funded by the proposed school bond, which is set for a June 4 vote. Also, look at the proposed costs plus interest expense. This information has not been sent out or made readily available to the public. As such, unless you take the time to “hunt it up,” you are buying into some things that I suspect you might find surprising. I originally found this information on the school district website, but it was removed.

Noting this, I asked the superintendent where the project proposal was, as it appeared to have been removed from the website. He said he would put it back. The Proposed Budget Summary by Nabholz Construction now is on the website, but it has changed. More projects and additional costs have been added. How additional items and costs can be added without adequate public review needs to be explored.

See the full list at www.usd287.org. If you do not have Internet, call the superintendent at (785) 566-3396 and have him supply you with the entire project list.                                                                                          

Projects are listed with the proposed cost, as well as the proposed cost plus interest.

• Vocational agriculture building shop — $936,500; $1,790,082.

• Junior varsity gym addition — $1,424,375; $2,722,636.

• High school toilet remodel — $253,200; $483,982.

• New parking buses and cars — $616,162; $1,177,769.

• High school/middle school entry/corridor addition — $1,497,900; $2,863,176.

• Elementary school playground relocation — $50,000; $95,573.

• Sidewalk — $130,510; $249,465.

• Hard surface play area — $32,454; $62,035.

• Varsity gym upgrade — $286,800; $548,207.

• Varsity gym bleacher upgrade — $210,000; $401,407.

• Eight-lane track — $650,000; $1,242,449.

I find some of these projects and their respective expenses outrageous. Spending $1.24 million on a track or nearly $1.8 million on a duplicate vocational agriculture building is beyond belief. We have an obligation to support our students, but doing so “blindly” without regard to cost and benefit is not using good judgment. Few projects on the proposed project list have anything to do with improving education.

We also are facing reduced enrollments. I recently called the State Board of Education and found out that bond proposals often are put together as two proposals. One proposal would outline the “must have” things based on absolute need and then a second proposal with what they “would like to have” plus all the “must haves.” The school board or its leadership knew of the ability to split this up, but chose to ask for the “Taj Mahal.”

Please consider this when you vote. This is not an all-or-nothing situation. Public involvement is needed to help the West Franklin school board chart the appropriate course for the future. Two of the three remaining school board members (those who will remain after the results of the recent election become effective) are on record as voting against the bond. Four out of four of the new incoming school board members are reportedly on record as being against the bond proposal, as it is written.

A “no” vote now, means this topic gets “revisited” — not eliminated forever. It makes sense to add some common sense to this process.

— Mike Terry, Pomona

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