Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bond questions and answers with Superintendent Marty Kobza

November 1, 2007

Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza answered questions Wednesday during an Online chat at the Lawrence Journal World Web site. The following is a transcript of that chat, which can be found at ljworld.com.

Question:
What is the name of the
38 percent state program? Please explain if this is a guaranteed payment and is this money already is set aside from the state or will this come out of their school finance funds? Thank you!
Marty Kobza:
Thank you for your question. State statute guarantees us 38 percent state aid on the bond issue should it pass this year. This is done to equalize funding across the state on bond issues. It is figured by using the average assessed value per pupil and then a sliding scale is used to determine the percentage. Details on how it is calculated can be found through the Kansas State Department of Education. On this bond issue, if principal and interest is calculated over a 20-year bond, the state would pay $31.7 million dollars that does not come directly from our tax payers.
Moderator:
Follow up question -- Is that 38 percent guaranteed each following year? How much does it depend on the Kansas Legislature and school funding?
Marty Kobza: The Legislature considered changing the law two years ago during the school finance lawsuit. Even with that consideration they would have grandfathered all existing bonds. Which means that once a bond is passed it would be very difficult if not impossible for the legislature to remove the funding.
Question:
Why can't the district expand Nottingham Elementary and continue to use it?
Marty Kobza:
The district could expand Nottingham but the board through community input and study determined that putting a large amount of money into renovating and expanding Nottinham would be an unwise way to spend district funds. Their are major safety and logistical concerns with the location of Nottingham and their are major expenses in upgrading sewer, electrical, HVAC and roofing systems as well. Expanding Nottingham would only increase the traffic and safety issues in that area.
Question:
It seems like poor management when the city issues building permits when everyone knows the long term effect is crowded schools - why isn't growth managed in steady controlled flow so that taxpayers aren't hit with these bonds every few years?
Marty Kobza:
The school district does not have any control over the issuing of building permits. This question should be directed to city officials. I do beleive the district has planned for growth in that by paying off one bond and bringing on another it can minimize the impact on tax payers. With the financing plan proposed by the district on this bond issue the overall school mill rate for taxpayers will not increase with the new bond issue. This bond will replace an existing bond and other budgetary adjustments will be made to make this happen.
Question:
It was stated in the flyer that the repairs to Nottingham would cost around $3 million. Why should we spend an additional $24 million on a new school instead of fixing and adding on to the one we have on property we already own. The 10th and Main is also a great location for a school and also property that we already own. Also, what about the safety for the kids that have to walk to the high school and middle school with no sidewalks. There are no proposed sidewalks on 10th Street which will create another unsafe evironment for kids walking to this new proposed school. What about these issues and the destroying of a beautiful historic home on the proposed property. We ALL know that not all kids will ride busses or be transported by parents, so these things are important. What about these issues?
Marty Kobza:
Thanks for your question. Simply rennovating Nottingham does not address the space issues. Significant space would have to be added to accomodate the growth at Nottingham. In addition, West Elementary would have to be almost doubled in size to replace the space being built with the proposed new elementary. For the size of space that is required for parking, playgrounds, etc. the 10th and Main facility would not be adequate. Sidewalks and streets are planned on all district properties with this project. The city and county will have to help off of the site. We will continue to run shuttles from every building so children will simply walk to the closest school and we will bus them to their school from that location. Continuing to upgrade infrastructure is and important issue for Eudora. I would encourage you to get involved with the city as they begin to plan for the future of Eudora and the infrastructure improvements that are needed. We are not destroying the home on the property. It would be sold to be moved off the property.
Question:
The teachers in your district don't have a current contract. Are new facilities more important to you than taking care of the teaching staff?
Marty Kobza:
Teacher salaries and funding for new facilities come from seperate revenue sources by law. The district continues to work on coming to an agreement with the teachers union. The board has made several offers to the union which they have chosen not to accept. As a result, we all continue to work diligently to resolve the contract issues.
Question:
Traffic issues at Nottingham could be helped to make an entrance to the north of the building and routing cars from Church to Elm. Heavy traffic complaint doesn't fly with most of us as we all know that schools create heavy traffic.
Marty Kobza:
A bank has been planned to be built on the north side of 14th and Church, limiting traffic flow in the area. In addition, more parking would be needed and more pad space for a building would be required on site. This would drastically limit the ability to make traffic flow smoothly. It is obvious that you do not agree with the plan. I would encourage you to vote on Tuesday.
Question:
The location for the new elementary school building is near a bar and a rundown trailer court. Is this the best place for young kids to be? The elementary school on the west side of town will be used for preschool and kindergarden. Isn't this bldg too large for such a small number of students?
Marty Kobza:
The building itself would be a significant distance from both areas you have mentioned. We have over 100 kindergarten students and between 30-40 pre-kindergarten students during the year. We would add head start, early head start, and parents as teachers to the facility. The head start programs currently do not exist, we have to limit pre-school because we do not have the space, and our PAT program is currently in the old cafeteria at 10th and main which is less than adequate space for that program. This program allows for growth at all of our facilities. We can actually build some space for growth while minimizing the impact on taxpayers

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