Letters to the Editor
To the editor:
I'm a relative newcomer to Baldwin City, so some people might not believe I've been around long enough to debate the issues regarding the proposal to issue approximately $23 million in bonds for the local school district. However, I come from a school district that recently considered a school bond issue similar to the proposal for the local school district, so I feel somewhat qualified to comment.
First, I agree completely with Ralph Tanner's letter in the Aug. 28 publication of the Baldwin City Signal. Tanner has obviously done considerable research and makes some very relevant points regarding the current economic situation and tax structure. Also, an article in the Aug. 30 issue of the Lawrence Journal-World states personal incomes fell by 0.7 percent in July of this year. This indicates to me that many people will have difficulty paying additional taxes. I'm certainly not against providing the best possible educational opportunities to young people, but I do have concerns about the effect an additional bond issue would have on taxpayers.
I'm not sure everyone is aware of the fact that there are two bond issues currently outstanding in the amount of $10,985, 500 and a "Capital Outlay" note in the about of $265,000 for a total current indebtedness of $11,250,000. Adding an additional $23 million would bring current indebtedness to approximately $34 million. Taxpayers will be paying on some of the current issues until 2018. Most school districts that I'm familiar with retire bonds prior to proposing additional issues.
A recent survey of educational achievement in 45 countries indicated the United States is now ranked 25th.
I don't think providing new facilities is the answer to improving our education system. I believe that until we (society in the U.S.) change our general moral attitude and approach to education, educational achievement in the U.S. will continue to decline with respect to other countries.
Thank you for allowing me to express my opinions.
To the editor:
We can't wait any longer. The time to pass the school bond is now.
Buildings can outlive their usefulness. The current Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center is a good example. Access is a mess. There's mold in the walls. The building isn't handicapped accessible. Classrooms are small. There's no convenient - and very little inconvenient - storage.
The roof on Baldwin Junior High School is leaking. Just taking a breath in the building will let you know that the HVAC system is no longer adequate. Problems like this don't get better by themselves. The mold won't stop growing and the roof won't stop leaking because the community has decided to wait.
As a homeowner, you wouldn't wait to fix your home if it were infected with mold or if it had a leaky roof. Why would you wait to fix your community's schools?
It is misleading to say this bond issue is going to raise our taxes by several million dollars. Your taxes will be raised by an average of less than $5 a week per family - a small price to pay to improve the education of Baldwin City students, improve the job satisfaction of Baldwin City teachers and keep Baldwin City from losing productive, young families who refuse to stay because they realize that Baldwin City has nothing to offer their children.
Depending on whom you talk to, the economy is not good now. But consider this: Baldwin City won't begin paying off the school bond until December 2009, 16 months from now. Doesn't the resilient American economy stand a good chance of being better by then?
We're not advocating for this bond because we don't worry about money or the economy. We're crunched by gas, food, milk and medical costs just like you. But we're committed to this community. One of its greatest strengths used to be its ability to pull together for a cause that helps every family.
We have lived here for 11 years and have had two children in the district, including Parents As Teachers, for almost eight years. We've had great teachers. We've never had great facilities. Now is the time for this community to stop looking backward and begin preparing for the future. How much longer do we have to wait to get our schools moving in the right direction?
Joe and Leigh Anne Bathke
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