To the editor:
For Mr. Richardson benefit, I repeat my statement that Leavenworth schools have been in the preschool business for more than 20 years as part of the federal Title 1 program. The current bond proposal will consolidate the district’s preschool and kindergarten programs at Lawson for efficiency and effectiveness.
The Leavenworth capital outlay mill levy to maintain Leavenworth school facilities raises about $1.3 million annually against a requirement of more than $1.6 million. One percent a year is a rule of thumb for home owners to set aside for maintenance. The district insures its schools for about $160 million. The district prioritizes building maintenance like every home owner. It also means that a substantial deferred maintenance list develops over time. As advertised, the district will use some of the proposed money to address selected big ticket items on that list. The district maintenance team takes great care of our seven active school buildings. One building dates to the 1930s. The core parts of four others were built in the 1950s. Construction on Warren started in 1998 and Henry Leavenworth is about eight years old.
Security and safety upgrades at the three schools that still need them are important. I don’t know all the facts associated with last Friday’s Texas school shooting. I do know that the Leavenworth police cannot sustain the massive uniformed presence they provided Saturday to secure our high school graduation. The high school needs a secure south entrance. Joplin and Greensburg tells me that Lawson and Warren schools need storm shelters.
The district’s reasoning for pursuing a bond now has never been a secret and was discussed during our monthly televised meetings. It is harder to get people to vote increases in their property taxes than to get them to maintain current taxation levels. The district has no legal requirement to present bond issues in the worst possible manner. However, the district’s facility needs can’t be wished away. Construction costs increase 5-10 percent annually and it looks like historically low borrowing interest rates are also going up. Both factors will eventually cost Leavenworth’s taxpayers far more money in the future. By the way, the law requires truth in advertising when it comes to school districts spending bond issue money. The district will have to do the things it is asking for funding for in the proposed bond issue.
For all of these reasons, I urge everyone to vote yes on the bond issue.