To the editor:
The letter from Mr. Reinhold published in your May 23 edition contains not facts but his opinions. Mr. Goodman accidentally missed the March 14 meeting of the Leavenworth BOE because it was held a week earlier than normal due to the scheduled district spring break. He was not tracking the change of dates. He was always going to vote for the bond issue. He got the chance when Mr. Carney, the BOE president, called the special meeting on March 19. Dr. Roth speaks with most BOE members before our meetings when they show up early. Their discussion on March 19 was not the arm-twisting session Mr. Reinhold alleges.
Mrs. Klemp has served the school district long and well during her multiple terms on the BOE. However, she advocated a top-down approach to developing the proposed bond issue in her board member comments on May 19. The BOE adopted its bottom up approach for defining our school district needs after two meetings on the subject in September 2017. She was excused from those two meetings for medical reasons. DLR interviewed BOE members separately as part of that process so I don’t know what they discussed in their meeting with Mrs. Klemp.
Last fall, I defended in a letter to the editor the BOE’s bottom up approach against unsubstantiated charges that the BOE had already made up its collective mind as to the bond issue’s contents. In hindsight it was a mistake not to record the March 19 BOE special meeting. The BOE normally records only its regular meetings. However, my memory of the March 19 meeting is that Mrs. Klemp’s top down approach totaled some $46 million as I added up each of her proposals in my head. She never offered a total sum but my mental math had her proposal exceeded the amount of available state-supported dollars the BOE could bond by roughly $10 million.
During Leavenworth High’s graduation ceremony on May 19, the school principal asked the graduates to stand if they had attended courses at the Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC)/Pioneer Career Center (PCC). Somewhere between one-third and one-half of all students stood. Development of a local, viable and affordable vocational education program for those students not going to college was one of the major tasks the BOE unanimously imposed on Dr. Roth when we hired him in March 2014.
Last semester, Leavenworth High had 22 students in the hard-skilled vocational courses KCKCC/PCC offers, such as heating/air conditioning and small appliance repair. That student density is not enough to support the Leavenworth school district being able to afford to offer those courses. Community college vocational instructors justifiably make far more money than our school district salary schedule supports. Last semester KCKCC/PCC had more than 400 secondary and other students taking its many courses. Its offerings serve the city of Leavenworth well and my firm belief is that it is a great use of that facility.
Mrs. Klemp agreed at our April 15, 2015, meeting when she and the rest of the BOE voted unanimously to lease the former West Middle School facility to KCKCC. The current bond proposal was developed by concerned parents, community members and educators in many meetings over a six-month period. It meets the district’s current needs and provides a firm foundation on which future BOEs can adjust. The firm providing the dollar amounts associated with the bond issue employs certified architects and professional civil engineers. It does not increase current property taxes.
I urge your readers to vote yes on the bond issue for all these reasons and many more.