The possibility that the State of Kansas might eliminate aid to school districts to help the pay for bond issues is causing quite a stir at USD 259, the Wichita public school district. (See Kansas Budget Problems Threaten School Bond Aid for background.)
It seems that the district is letting Linda Jones, chief financial officer for USD 259, be the primary responder to this situation. She’s been quoted on several local media outlets.
KWCH Television quoted Ms. Jones as saying that “it [USD 259] will not scale-down the plan to cuts costs but rather ask the taxpayers to make up the difference.”
KSN Television quoted her this way: “I know in all the conversations I was in we couched it the 25 percent was based on current law, that’s what we expected and that was subject to change.” (I’d be interested in learning of any public communication from USD 259 where it was mentioned that the 25% might change. I don’t recall any.)
On KAKE Televison, she said that the projects would go on. “The local taxpayers would be paying the difference.”
Sunday, on the KPTS television program “Ask Your Legislator” Wichita Democrat Tom Sawyer said that “there is a real problem with trying to take away money from bond issues that have already passed.” Changing the rules would be “pretty unfair.” It would make a good court case for someone — unfortunately, he added.
(On this program Senator Jean Schodorf, Republican of Wichita, promoted the false idea that a bond issue is effective economic stimulus. See Wichita School District Economic Impact for more about this issue.)
In one respect, this boils down to a consideration of which promise is most important to keep: the Wichita school district’s promotion that 25% of the bond cost would be paid for by someone else, or the promotion that taxes would be raised by a certain amount. Those taxes will have to be raised to a higher level if the Wichita school district decides to spend all $370 million that the voters authorized.
Judging by the statements of Ms. Jones and others at USD 259, I suggest that Wichita taxpayers prepare to pay even higher taxes.
Time out. First, we need to be clear about what has happened here. This is a bill that has been introduced in the Kansas Senate. It first has to pass out of the Ways and Means Committee, then the full Senate, then a House Committee, then the full House. On top of that, if the House makes changes to it or rolls another bill into it then a conference committee consisting of House and Senate members have to agree on a final version. Finally, the Governor has to sign it.
My point is this bill has a long long ways to go and I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself Bob and so is USD 259 in thinking this thing will pass. It might, but it’s not time to start freaking out yet.
The Valley Center USD 262 bond issue was 42%, and they have started selling bonds and have a quick construction date on that $58 million project. That was an April 08 election. Remember, less than a week to run for school board or any Cities council.