The Lansing community sits at a crossroads on Nov. 6. Before it lies two options, both highly desirable, but at conflict with each other.
Do Lansing residents want to be known as a low-tax mecca, a place where people can reside and pay some of the lowest property taxes in northeast Kansas?
Or do they want to be known for its top-notch school district, with first-class educational facilities and learning opportunities – a place where families seek to reside to raise and educate their children?
Lansing has largely enjoyed a reputation for both attributes heretofor, with a school district steeped in scholastic and athletic achievements and a school mill levy for district residents of only 9.82, by far the lowest of any surrrounding districts. But that figures to change on Nov. 6 when voters must choose if they want to raise property taxes in order to make needed additions and renovations to keep up with the district's growth.
At stake is a $73-million school bond proposal that would finance a new high school on 154 acres on DeSoto Road, renovate the former high school into a new middle school, and build new athletic facilities.
The project is needed because Lansing schools are already over capacity at all three building levels, and with long-range plans predicting much more growth in and around Lansing, the problem is going to get worse. If the measure fails, the district will face overcrowded classrooms, deteriorating facilities and mobile units surrounding buildings.
It's a difficult dilemma for many district patrons, all of whom probably desire good schools, but who surely don't welcome paying a couple hundred dollars more a year in property taxes – expecially seniors or residents without kids in school.
It's not a great climate right now to ask voters for a tax increase, but this is an important investment in Lansing's future.
It is anticipated the bond would raise the mill levy to 21.50, a large increase but not out of line with neighboring districts (Bonnor Springs 19.93, Basehor 19.98, Leavenworth 21.72, De Soto 35.60).
Considering the fact that the costs will only get higher if this issue is kicked down the road, district patrons would be wise to support the issue now. And it would be an expecially wise choice considering the school district can get the state to fund 41 percent of the cost over the life of the 25-year bond. With the dark cloud hanging over state education funding, that opportunity could be dried up by this time next year.
Great schools are not only a source of community pride, they attract like-minded families interested in quality-of-life issues. That's why the Chamber of Commerce endorsed the issue after first polling Lansing-area businesses, who mostly support the bond issue, despite the fact they will pay the largest tax increases.
Page 2 of 2 - While lower property taxes are coveted, Lansing should forge ahead and build its reputation around an exceptional school district. It will be less expensive in the long run, and It's the right way to build a great community with big plans for the future.