To the editor:
At the school board meeting March 14, the vote to approve the bond proposal was 3-3 which was a defeat. It takes four votes to pass a motion and one member was absent. The three who voted no did not feel this was the ideal plan for our kids and/or the community.
Some felt Lawson was not appropriate for all prekindergarten and kindergarten pupils. Also, the current trend is to keep sixth and especially fifth-graders independent of seventh- and eighth-graders.
A special meeting was called five days later on March 19 to secure the four votes which was strange because the initial meeting was pushed forward a week because of spring break.
I did not attend the hastily called board meeting because I knew what the outcome would be and didn’t want to again be condemned, besmirched and vilified by those who are in favor of the bond issue. Had I attended, I would have repeated my no vote. It is sad something could not be worked out to get a unanimous vote instead of pushing through something all members could not support.
Should we take our fifth-graders out of the elementary schools? Should we remove the sixth grade from the middle school? Do we need a storm shelter at Warren? Is a shower needed in the visiting boys’ locker room near the high school? Is it necessary to install a FEMA door to enter the greenhouse without going outside at the high school? Is it essential we address repairs that Mr. Dedeke outlined for us? Absolutely. Do we need $36.7 million to accomplish these needs? In my opinion, no.
We would not be in this overcrowded predicament if we hadn’t closed West, which I and two other board members voted against. Building onto Warren is not the only answer. When the last bond issue came up, I suggested we build a new high school and place all elementary kids in the old high school. That would have been a good way to collaborate. Few listened. Of course, that’s behind us now.
When one large nearby Missouri school district wanted to take their 800 sixth grade students out of their middle school, they decided to reopen and house them in an old high school building which is about the age of Nettie. A Kansas school district not far from us placed their sixth grade pupils in a building that prior was an all-kindergarten center. Not many said these buildings were too old, the urinals too low, the gym not up to current standards, the playground too small, etc. Both districts accomplished these outcomes without spending a huge amount of money.
During my substituting years, I worked in both buildings and found them more than adequate. The one building I was in when it was all-kindergarten and then a sixth grade center.
We have several options to explore without adding to Warren. The ideas would take money, but nothing like $36.7 million. One plan would be to put all fifth and sixth at Lawson, prekindergarten and kindergarten at Anthony, first and second at Henry, third and fourth at Brewer. That would be real collaboration. If we bused all pupils, parents would not oppose. Another idea could be to upgrade Nettie for a fifth and sixth grade center and continue all existing elementary buildings, prekindergarten through fourth, change boundaries and stop transfers to Henry. Or maybe purchase the old K-Mart store and remodel it for fifth and sixth. There could be other plans to explore as well.
A district south of us this fall will have prekindergarten at one site, kindergarten through third at another, fourth and fifth at a third, seven and eight at another and then on to the high school.
Four years ago, some on the board said if we closed West we would save $1 million. Now they want to spend $36.7 million to save $1 million. Sounds like fuzzy math to me. When this bond plan was first unveiled the cost was said to be $42 million. Now that the state balked at that amount, they say we can have the same results for $36.7 million – more than $5 million less. Sounds like more fuzzy math.
There is another troubling aspect to this whole matter. Because we used mailed-in ballots, it has cost us $25,000. If we had waited until Nov. 6 at the mid-term elections, it would cost us nothing.