Wichita School bond issue: don’t indulge superstition

The Board of Education for USD 259, the Wichita public school district, is considering whether to hold a special election this spring. This special election would allow voters to indicate whether they support a new bond issue.

Why hold a special election in April or May when Kansas has elections scheduled in August and November?

Is the Wichita school district facing an emergency need for capital improvements that can’t wait a few months? No, Wichita is not Greensburg, where the school buildings were destroyed. In fact, many of the things the proposed bond issue would pay for are things left over from the 2000 bond issue. Surely these are not emergency needs. They could wait a few months.

USD 259 will have to pay the costs of a special election, perhaps $75,000. But if the district waits until the first Tuesday in August — just three or four months later — the bond issue question can be added to the ballot at no cost.

So what is the reason for the rush to hold an expensive special election? We can learn the reason from an article in the Wichita Business Journal (“Brooks: Bond issue possible in spring” December 28, 2007). In this article, Wichita School Superintendent Winston Brooks is quoted as saying: “The last one was in a nonelection year. I’m superstitious so I would want to do it in the spring again.”

First, the “last one” referred to was a special bond issue election held in 2000, which was an election year similar to the current year.

But the real stunner is this: Winston Brooks wants to hold an expensive special election to indulge his superstition!

Winston Brooks’ superstition is not a valid reason for holding an expensive special election. If there is another reason for holding a special election, let the district make its case. Until then, let’s save the money for the legitimate needs of the schools.

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