Chamber honors USD 491
At the Eudora Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner Feb. 2, the chamber made a somewhat surprising move in naming Eudora USD 491 the 2007 Business of the Year.
"While some might not think of our schools as a traditional business, they are deserving of recognition - as anyone here with children can attest to," Fiore said. "And, as anyone with children who are looking to relocate will tell you, schools play a large role in determining where they will live. That means houses sold, and rooftops mean businesses take an interest in your community, all of which leads to a larger tax base and a strong community."
With 212 employees, the school district is the largest employer in Eudora, and although calling it a business may be a misnomer, Eudora Superintendent Marty Kobza agreed with Fiore's assessment of how important schools were to Eudora.
"I was surprised because we aren't necessarily classified as a business. We were flattered that we were nominated and won the award. I do think that John Fiore hit it on the head when he talked about the economic impact that this bond will have on the community.
"It will bring rooftops and it will bring the construction industry, which has been starving in Eudora just like it has been across the country."
With the construction of a new elementary school as well as several other expansions to the district as a result of the Nov. 6 approval of a $45 million bond, the district has the capacity to grow by up to 1,000 more children, Kobza said.
According to its research, the school district accounts for about .5 children per household. As a result, Kobza said there is the possibility for another 500 homes to be built in Eudora during the next five to 10 years.
Kobza said the district's decisions regarding what it will do with older properties will be more important than the possibility of several hundred new homes.
The Eudora School Board has been in talks over the last month to begin to formulate a plan for the fate of properties such as Nottingham Elementary School, the Community Learning Center and Laws Field.
One option would be that the board would retain the property for other district functions. The school district also has the opportunity to gain more revenue if it should choose to sell Nottingham Elementary School, which is located between Church and Elm streets at 14th Street.
Selling any of the property would mean making available prime pieces of real estate for business development that could further close the wide gap between residential and business tax bases.
Kobza said the district relished its position within not just the chamber, but also the community.
"They're our partners. We have several people who are partners with us in the educational process - obviously that's the parents in the community - but also the chamber and those businesses who are willing to support our school systems.
"It's really neat to see how they get a return on their investment, so for us to be able to work hand-in-hand with them and help them in any way that we can does nothing but create a win-win situation."