To the editor:
I wish to reply to two letters to the editor in the May 31 edition.
Ms. Heflin seems to have invented a conspiracy to move poor people out of northeast Leavenworth out of whole cloth based on an anonymous individual that she calls a reliable source. I have been on the Leavenworth Board of Education for five straight years. We get briefed once a quarter by the Leavenworth city manager on things going on in the city that could impact schools. I have heard of no such proposal. Of course, proving a negative is hard.
Mr. Reinhold and others want governmental bodies to have different rules for advertising bond issues than those currently applying. They need to petition the state Legislature to change the law. As an elected official, I swore an oath to obey the law. The school district obeyed current law when it informed voters of the cost of the proposed bond it wished those voters to approve. If a future Legislature changes the law, the board will obey the law.
The state Legislature recently changed the law when it comes to supporting school bond issues since Lansing voters approved their new high school. The Legislature capped the total amount the state would support in the neighborhood of $350 million each year and reduced the percentage of support they provide. School districts have to compete with each other at the state level if there are more bond issues proposed than the state will support. Leavenworth’s proposed bond issue runs up the state total to that maximum state supported amount for this last (2017-2018) school year. This did cause the district to restructure its proposal down to the amount that could be fiscally supported instead of what we wanted.
Waiting until November (thus saving roughly $25,000) to hold the election puts Leavenworth schools into the 2018-2019 school budget year. Already two Kansas school districts have announced that they are going for a total of about $250 million in bonds in that budget year. This leaves the rest of the state to compete for the remaining available dollars. There is no guarantee that the state will grant Leavenworth permission to summit a bond issue to our voters next November. It could easily be the 2019-2020 school budget year before a bond issue could pass with a $5-7 million increase in construction costs due to inflation – which Mr. Reinhold wants me to advertise as $15-$21 million. That is a classic case of penny wise and pound foolish. This will also result in an increase in our mill levy above current rates. For these and other reasons, I urge Leavenworth voters to vote yes on the bond issue.