Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2007

District focuses bond issue education efforts on young families

October 11, 2007

Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza doesn't have to look far from the district's south campus at Eudora Middle School to identify a crucial battleground in the district's effort to pass a $45 million bond issue.

The area is the Shadow Ridge subdivision that sprang up this decade just to the south and west of the campus and filled with young families.

"We call it Strollerville," he said.

Shadow Ridge may be the biggest new neighborhood in Eudora but it is not alone. Subdivisions in east Eudora also have been part of the boom that added 100 homes annually to the city before the nationwide housing slump hit last year.

District officials already have seen the influx of the younger students. This year, the district's largest consecutive classes are at Nottingham Elementary School. According to district numbers, the school has 103 kindergarten students, 121 first-grade students and 115 second-grade students.

District officials don't expect the trend to slow.

The concern of Kobza and other district officials is how much awareness the young families have of the bond issue.

"That becomes a concern because it truly is a massive effort to educate as many as we can so they can get facts and not just someone's opinion," Kobza said.

To help build awareness, Kobza gave a presentation last Thursday to the Kaw Valley Childcare Providers.

At the meeting, preschool teacher Angie Abts said the district's message seemed to be getting through to the parents of her students.

"A lot of people seem to be for it," she said.

Abts said she found less support with older, retired residents.

Kobza's presentation is typical of the district's effort to educate people on the issue.

"It's our goal to make sure people have the real information, the real pieces of finance and the real impact the bond issue, versus the really negative impact that happens if the bond issue does not pass," Kobza said.

Within the next week, Kobza has another four presentations planned, he said. In addition to the presentations, district officials led informal meetings with residents in neighborhoods surrounding possible bond projects. There's also a public forum planned for Nov. 1.

The bond projects include expansions for Eudora High School, Eudora Middle School, Eudora West Elementary and the construction of a new first- through fifth-grade elementary school building.

The projects are especially important to the younger families, Kobza said.

"If the bond issue doesn't pass, then those families would have a number of their children attending school in modular units," Kobza said. "I think that's the reality of the situation."

Federal law forbids district officials from attempting to sway voters one way or other the on the bond.

A citizen committee, Vote Yes For Student Success, actively urges citizens to support the bond.

Committee co-chair Kim Schulz said her group also recognizes the importance of young families within the district.

"These are the people you would like to talk to because they are the ones who are going to be using the facilities," she said.

Resident Kathy Silkey has two children who are not yet old enough to attend school.

She's undecided on the bond question, she said.

"I've gotten good things and bad things on it," Silkey said.

Part of the issue is that she has little connection to the district, she said.

Savannah Nieder pushed a stroller with her 1-year-old son near East Side Park Tuesday morning.

"I haven't heard much about it," Nieder said of the bond issue.

Her friends with children in the district have told her about small class sizes, Nieder said. She planned to vote on the Nov. 6 referendum, she said.

"It's something to do to help them out," she said.

For more information or to schedule a bond presentation, call the district at 542-2747 or visit online at www.eudoraschools.org/bond.

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