Archive for Thursday, February 15, 2007

Board’s trust earned through opennes, accomplishment

February 15, 2007

Earlier this month while going over the findings of a survey of Eudora USD 491 district patrons, consultant Ken DeSieghardt characterized the relationship between the district board and its constituency as a "love fest."

In the most remarkable finding in the survey, 53 percent of respondents said they would support a bond issue proposed by the board without knowing its details.

That is a remarkable expression of trust. And while we're confident the board views that as overstated, it stands as a testament to the board and administration's accomplishments of recent years.

Simply put, the district has delivered. Projects have been built as promised with no cost overruns. It also doesn't hurt that the district has concentrated on schools in recent bond issues, although there have been the inevitable ancillary improvements like ball fields.

Also, the district has been free of the kind of financial or personnel embarrassments. From academics to athletics, news from the district is nearly always good news.

It is good the district has that reserve of good will, because the next bond issue may very well include new offices and bus barn. Those items will include non-school projects, which however badly needed in a growing district, can be convenient targets for those who will see anything beyond the district's current barebones utility as extravagant. There is also the question of a new football stadium, which remains a concept because of a less than friendly reception to an earlier proposed financial arrangement to build the facility.

There is also the need to resolve the future of the district's excess properties, in which the board will need to satisfy competing interests.

A continued policy of openness as the district proceeds with crafting the bond issue will go a long way to preventing an end to the love fest. No matter how supportive district patrons are on the eve of the bond, the better defined and argued motivations are for projects included in the bond, the more trust the board will have when taxpayers start taking a critical look.

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