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 help the bond issue be better accepted by some voters. But what’s troubling is the interplay of the four parties involved in this apparently pre-staged drama.
According to Eagle reporting, CARE co-leader Randy Thon indicated it was business leaders who requested “technical education upgrades.” But a few paragraphs later in the same story we read “Thon said he didn’t have names of business leaders who requested technical education be a higher priority, but CARE is compiling a list of leaders to have formal conversations with as the bond issue proposal moves forward.”
So we’re asked to believe it was business leaders who requested a change in the bond plan, but the person who, presumably, solicited or received these recommendations doesn’t know the names of those who made them. I find this unbelievable.
I think the only conclusion we can draw is that CARE is merely an agent for someone else, whether it be the board of USD 259, the administration of USD 259, or Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, the district’s architect.
Kansas law places restrictions on the board and administration of USD 259 regarding their involvement in bond issue elections. It appears that this restriction may be unwise. The development of the bond issue plan and its associated campaign is placed in the hands of either a citizen group with severe believability problems or an architectural firm with a huge financial incentive for passing the largest bond issue possible. We really don’t know.
As documented in articles appearing on this website, the Wichita public school district has problems with openness and transparency. This confusion about the bond issue and its management is another example of this problem.