Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2006

Inclusive approach should serve board well in bond issue

September 28, 2006

In the past few months, the Eudora USD 491 school board has been carefully laying the groundwork for a bond referendum in late 2007 or early 2008.

Next month, board members will invite selected members of the community in for the discussion on what is initially thought to be a package of improvements and new facilities totaling somewhere near $40 million. To its credit, the board intends to include residents who could be expected to oppose any proposal -- such as members of the group who last year protested the use of the district capital outlay fund to build a new football stadium -- and not limit discussion to site council and PTO members who would be inclined to support the district.

This is a wise decision on the part of the board.

With mobile units in use at Nottingham Elementary School and Eudora Middle School, it is hard to argue the board is rushing the bond decision. The board needs to avoid lost time that would come with a failed bond issue because it misread what the community will accept.

Making the citizen committee inclusive should give the school board a good feel on the community temperament. The many voices should provide some understanding of what to do with possible surplus properties at the old downtown football field, the Community Learning Center and even Laws Field should a new stadium be included in the referendum. It should give a reading about what voters will accept before they start experiencing sticker shock. Perhaps most importantly, it should help any emotional pitfalls that could doom any proposals with many voters.

Bond referendums fail because governing bodies misread the public. Hearing from a wide spectrum of the community should help the board avoid failure at a time when continued growth in the city could rapidly change the nature of classrooms from manageable to crowded.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.