Archive for Thursday, May 2, 2002

Letters

May 2, 2002

I neither like paying taxes nor everything about the De Soto USD 232 bond proposal. I will, however, vote for the bond. The fact is the school district must deal with extraordinary growth. This growth is not confined to the east side of our district. We have a present need to acquire land and prepare to build a new elementary school in the southwestern section of the district. The pressure may not be the same as in the east, but the numbers don't lie. Considering just the recorded plats in the west, elementary enrollment may exceed Starside's capacity within the next couple of years. I'm also sure it's not surprising news that more development is headed our way.

Without passage of this bond issue, our school board will find its hands tied in dealing with growth, which will lead to bad planning and more expensive "fixes" in the long run. Giving the board the tools to make reasonable decisions in light of the extraordinary pressure we face only makes sense.

Voting for the bond will not fully resolve any issue of growth. I have heard a number of proposals regarding what may be done with this bond authority, not all of which I like. But, even if the bond passes, the board must decide very important issues of timing, building, setting boundaries, proper positioning of technology, etc. Still, I would rather have the board talking about those issues instead of issues of busing, temporary facilities, unconventional scheduling and split classrooms.

I hope you will vote for the bond and give our elected school board representatives a fighting chance to make sound decisions regarding the future educational needs of our children. If you don't trust your school board to make good decisions, vote for candidates you do trust or take advantage of the many opportunities to participate. Voting against the bond won't make you feel better about your school board, and it could prove very costly.

Roger H. Templin
De Soto

I am writing to the newspaper, because in the past, I have not been successful in having my questions answered at USD 232 board meetings. With the upcoming $91.2 million bond election, I have some unanswered questions.

Recently, I read an article in a metropolitan-area publication that caused some concern and made me feel that someone in the 232 School District needed to answer some questions about what the article contained. It concerns the Woodsonia School and its fate in the very near future.

According to the article, Woodsonia Elementary School will be used by USD 232 as a kindergarten for one more year, then traded to Rodrock Development for a residential piece of ground in Grey Oaks subdivision in Shawnee. Rodrock Development company gains title to a very valuable piece of ground, which includes a reasonably expensive building and plans commercial construction on the Woodsonia site, so the article states. And in trade, the taxpayers in De Soto USD 232 get title to a vacant piece of land in a residential subdivision. Of course the plan would be for the taxpayers of USD 232 to pay to build a new elementary school on that vacant ground, which would entice buyers to Mr. Rodrock's Grey Oaks subdivision. In summary, we trade a valuable piece of potentially high dollar commercial property (on the corner of K-7 and Johnson Drive), which includes a nice building, for a vacant piece of property in a residential subdivision. Rodrock Development gets a prime piece of real estate, and the taxpayers pay to build his new subdivision a new schooland the De Soto taxpayers get what? That doesn't sound quite fair to the taxpayers of USD 232.

I would like for the 232 Board members and Superintendent Marilyn Layman to tell the patrons just how we are to come out on top of this deal. I would also like to know how much the Woodsonia property is worth and what Mr. Rodrock will get of it when he sells it for commercial use. It looks to me like we are helping Mr. Rodrock make a bundle of money by this trade.

Why are we going to let another school go instead of sprucing it up and adding on to it? We have closed the grade school in De Soto because it wasn't good enough for the kids and now look at it. We have remodeled, landscaped, fenced and poured new sidewalks, and for what? Not the children, but for a storage building and work area for the maintenance crew.

Also, several years ago the taxpayers spent close to half a million dollars to run water lines out to Countryside Elementary School, and for what? All the while, the school district officials planned to close down Countryside Elementary. Later, the patrons of the school district found out that the waterline was run for the new Cohen-Esry apartment complex.

We are now adding on to Lexington Trails Middle School that sits on the campus of the new, half-empty De Soto High School. We were told several years ago that this very building could not support an addition. Why can this building support additional space now? What happened to magically make it so we can do it now?

Our old De Soto High School wasn't good enough either? It wasn't even good enough to sell. We had to give it away, and for what? It's now been refurbished and the city is using it. Why is it good enough for the city of De Soto and not good enough for the 232 district staff?

And we now have two new high schools, the one in De Soto being half-empty. And we have a new administration building, across the street from the new half-empty high school, which sits on the same campus as the Lexington Trails Middle School that is currently gaining an addition. To top it all off, the new administration building was built after the same administration was aware that the new building across the street was half-empty, and that same administration has to be conscious of the fact that the new De Soto High School will remain half-empty for more years to come.

And furthermore, to quote Dan Williams, Representative of the 14th District, "It is time that local school districts stop using the children of our communities as propaganda pawns. And it is time that local administrators stop trying to scare the parents of our community in order to protect their own bureaucratic income levels and liberal political agendas."

Ladies and gentlemen, in De Soto 232 School District, we have lots of unanswered questions, and I could make a list a mile long. I would challenge USD 232 leaders to explain.

Ronald L. McDaniel,
De Soto

When I look at the "Bond Proposal at a Glance" for technology I come up with $8,150,000 dollars, and add to that the money already committed and you have a tidy sum. Now add the cost of the additional personnel needed to maintain, supervise and train, and the figures go off my scale. Computers are obsolete before you get them so you will need new ones each two to four years, adding even more costs before the planned program is completed. Let's get intelligent and lease computers and make them available to students by semester.

This would cut the amount needed by one-half. Then use some of this money for teacher's salaries or more teachers in lieu of technicians and repairmen.

Suppliers can maintain and eat the depreciation, and latest technology would be in the very competitive area among suppliers.

I concur with a recent comment on the bond issue I read in another newspaper: "We're not even getting the basics done. My kid can't even get a book to bring home."

In a local business recently I had a refund check to apply to some additional business. The local graduate struggled with these two figures, gave up and went to the computer for the answer. Another similar incident happened locally this week. The major companies I retired from preferred to teach computers to their own people with all the special and competitive software.

Gifford F. Knapp
De Soto

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