To the editor:
We are asked to believe that the USD 453 bond plan forwarded to Leavenworth residents for a vote has been a long time in coming – at least three years, in fact.
However, the discussion of various ways to spend the bond money over the last year demonstrate that the whole purpose of the bond issue is to preserve the current tax encumbrance because the district knows that obtaining a future one would be challenging in the current economic climate. The plans have run the gamut in the board’s efforts to find ways to spend the bond money they want to keep encumbered.
If the bond does not pass, Leavenworth property taxes will fall below that of Lawrence’s. Currently, we have the highest property tax ($3,403 for a $250K house) compared to Lawrence ($3,373) and Lenexa ($3,283).
Yet the school board claims that, suddenly, they realize the grade schools are overcrowded, hoping we will forget that less than a decade ago they sold three schools outright, claiming the student population was decreasing.
Leavenworth’s population has not grown significantly in that last decade, so what changed?
According to many parents, the district began allowing students who should be attending Anthony or Lawson to attend Henry Leavenworth Elementary.
Now the superintendent is threatening to close Lawson if the bond issue does not pass, without any concrete plan in place for the residents of north Leavenworth, despite the fact that the most logical and least expensive way to ease the overcrowding of the elementary schools is to bus students to Lawson.
Why does the district hate the Lawson building so much? After the Henry Leavenworth school, Lawson is the youngest of Leavenworth’s school buildings, so the facility itself should not be an issue.
In the increasingly bigoted times we live in, we have to address the elephant in the room: does the school district not care about the residents of north Leavenworth?
Leavenworth’s population breaks down to 16 percent Black or African American, 5 percent Hispanic or Latino, 2 percent Asian, 1.5 percent American Indian or Pacific Islander and 2.5 percent self-identify as mixed race. Do each of our elementary schools evenly reflect this cultural mix?
Are the children from Lawson and Anthony who are now attending Henry Leavenworth of a particular race, so that Leavenworth is now steeped in segregation?
I hope not, but with Trump, who thinks white supremacists are “fine people,” in office, we have to ask.
And we deserve an answer.
Because the move to close Lawson when there is clear need of another elementary school flies against logic, so there has to be another motivator.
What that motivation really is, other than fumbling blindly to find a way to keep our tax dollars encumbered, has yet to be revealed.