Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey

Raising Wichitans’ Taxes in a Recession is Not A Good Idea

"Democrat Barack Obama says he would delay rescinding President Bush's tax cuts on wealthy Americans if he becomes the next president and the economy is in a recession, suggesting such an increase would further hurt the economy." (Associated Press, September 7, 2008) Contrary to assertions by Wichita school interim superintendent Martin Libhart and school board president Lynn Rogers, Wichita can't tax and spend its way out of a recession that may or may not be forthcoming. Not even Barack Obama believes that, as shown in the news story quoted above. Still, bond issue supporters say that's what happened after the…
Read More

In Wichita schools, smaller classes mean adding on — and subtracting

Today's Wichita Eagle contains a story about the need for additional classroom space to support the initiative of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, to reduce class size. Presenting to the board was Kenton Cox of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, the school district's favorite architect. This firm stands to earn millions in fees and commissions if the bond issue passes. Their motives must always be kept in mind. Smaller class sizes seem like a great idea. Teachers like them, as it means less work for them. Teachers unions like them, as it means more teachers paying union dues.…
Read More

Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture: Wichita School District’s Favorite Architect Has Hand in Everything

Recently I obtained the contract for the construction of Stucky Middle School for USD 259, the Wichita public school district. Something I observed is that Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture was not the architect. Instead, it was Gossen Livingston Associates, Inc. Gossen Livingston was one of the hosts for the kickoff of the "Yes For Kids" pro-bond campaign in August. Was this firm inspired by a sense of civic duty and concern for the children of Wichita? Or by the prospect of earning architectural fees? Something I also noticed in this contract was the naming of an "owner's representative." I…
Read More

Records Requests Sent Today

Today, I've made two records requests under the Kansas Open Records Act. The first, to USD 259, the Wichita public school district, is this: All correspondence between USD 259 and Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture and its representatives from July 1, 2007 to the present. I ask for both written and electronic correspondence such as email. This would include email between USD 259 and Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture's email accounts at sjcf.com, and also email accounts of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture representatives such as Joe Johnson, Kenton Cox, and Ken Arnold that may not be at an sjcf.com…
Read More

Mark McCormick’s Wichita School Bond Bias

Writing from Scottsdale, Arizona Today's Mark McCormick column in the Wichita Eagle (Opponents of school bond skip specifics) provides an example of this columnist's bias, and how this bias leads to his rapidly losing credibility among Wichitans. Bias is okay for a columnist. Everyone is entitled to a point of view. After reading a few of McCormick's columns you get used to his way of looking at the world. Then you can either read his column, filtering it as you do. Or, like many people tell me, they've simply stopped reading his column. Sometimes they stop the entire newspaper. Here's…
Read More

Wichita School Safe Rooms: At No Cost?

Writing from Scottsdale, Arizona At the September 8, 2008 meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, safe rooms were on the agenda. A few things I learned: It appears that it was by serendipity that the district discovered that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would help pay for the hardening of safe rooms. If not for that discovery, would these safe rooms be under consideration? Joe Johnson, head of the school district's architectural firm Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture gave a presentation highlighting the benefit of FEMA paying $18 million towards hardening the safe…
Read More

Carol Rupe, Kansas School Board Member, Speaks for the Wichita School Bond Issue

In a letter to the Wichita Eagle, Kansas school board member Carol Rupe makes the case for supporting the Wichita school bond issue. It's not remarkable that a member of the public school bureaucracy would support increased spending on schools. Her letter is remarkable, however, in what it says, and what it doesn't say. For example, Ms. Rupe says "I think I know who will be giving money to the group supporting the bond issue." She then lists a few parties, but leaves out a few who have a huge interest in passing the bond issue: architects like Schaefer Johnson…
Read More

Increasing the Wichita School Bond Issue: Why Was Courage Required?

Talking to news media during a break in the meeting of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on Monday August 11, 2008, Connie Dietz referred to her surprise motion to increase the amount being asked for by $20 million, remarking "I knew what I wanted to do, and I guess I was trying to find the courage to do it." Personally, I want to take Ms. Dietz at her word when she says that her motion was unplanned. But I've talked to quite a few people in the community, and no one I've talked to believes that the board's…
Read More

How to Pass the Wichita School Bond Issue

For tonight's meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, a resolution has been prepared that calls for a vote on a proposed bond issue to be held on November 4, 2008. I don't know if the board will vote to approve this measure or if they will even take a vote tonight, but I suspect the resolution will pass. Randy Scholfield's editorial Put school bond issue to public vote is correct in its assessment of the feckless campaign in favor of the bond issue. But it's not all the fault of the school board or…
Read More

Wichita School Bond Issue: What We Don’t Know

In a recent article I wondered Who Runs the Wichita School Bond Issue Campaign? Reporting in today's Wichita Eagle (Technical ed at center of bond changes) makes me even more concerned about this. At Monday's school board meeting, representatives of Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE) revealed their recommendations for the revision of a proposed bond issue. The upshot of their recommendation is to eliminate some spending for athletic facilities, replacing it with spending on technical education programs, including an aviation technology-themed magnet high school, perhaps housed in an existing facility. This might be a good idea. It might even…
Read More