District promise of openness key in tough times
The Eudora USD 491, so fortunate in so many ways in recent years, has had its share of misfortune of late just as it embarked on projects approved in the $45 million bond issue district voters approved last year.
Although some obstacles were unique to the district, such as the discovery of a gas well at the site of the future elementary school, others have are the result of a struggling economy that has created hardships nationwide.
Last summer’s high fuel costs and changing economic conditions led to higher construction costs for the new elementary school. That was followed by the postponement of a planned bond sale to finance the construction. The district has overcome both of those issues, but more serious consequences are on the horizon.
The national housing tailspin slowed growth in Eudora. It is predicted enrollment will grow by 10 or fewer students. With the Kansas school finance formula, no growth means no added money from the state.
Worse, it now appears the per-pupil increase in funding the Legislature approved last session for the 2009-2010 year is at risk because of the state’s revenue shortfall.
With all that has happened the last six months, it’s no wonder Eudora Superintendent Don Grosdidier is frustrated with hearing “it’s a first” when another unforeseen problem emerges. But as he considers the coming challenges, Grosdidier acknowledges the district’s best resource is community support. He also acknowledges the best way to maintain that support is through honesty and openness. “I think to make sure everyone is on the same page and can weather the storm together, we have to be transparent about funds we have coming in and where those funds are going,” he said earlier this month.
Honesty and openness won’t spare the district or its students and parents pain, but it will help build confidence the tough coming decisions are the right ones.