This month I will address the topic that a lot in the community have already had conversations about and give a little background perspective from my end.
When I began this job on July 1, 2018, one of my first tasks was to familiarize myself with the facilities and to evaluate their strengths and needs. Upon completion, I evaluated each facility in comparison to the facility goals/plans that were in place for the district.
After this initial walk-through, there were issues I felt needed to be high on the priority list of needs. The district did have a rough plan in place for facilities, but due to budget uncertainty through recent history, some of those issues had not been addressed. After a discussion with the Board of Education, we committed to creating and implementing a 5-year strategic plan.
Then, the Memorial Day storm hit Linn, and that planning process was interrupted while we dug out from under and began repairing the damage that came with it. Now that many of the repairs have been made, the board is trying to decide if this is an opportunity for the district to focus on some of the more pressing and higher cost needs.
The board, however, is faced with the fact that the cost of addressing these needs will exceed what the district currently has in Capital Outlay and depleting this account will not allow for scheduled upkeep and repairs for the foreseeable future. Consequently, the only other option, should you, the patrons, decide to pursue it, would be to pass a bond issue. The board has instructed me to meet with you to discuss a list of needs and wants in each community. As of this writing, I have met with Linn community members and will meet with Hanover patrons within the next few days.
These meetings serve a dual purpose. Most importantly, they give you an opportunity to express your interest in or opposition of USD 223 pursuing a bond issue for the improvements. Secondly, you will have the opportunity to help determine what improvements and changes need to be made at each building. Once this list is compiled, we will retain a professional team to make a hard copy of the plans with building cost estimates. At this point, community meetings will be held to show the plans and present solid financial details so that you can form your opinion. Should the board decide to instruct me to pursue the matter, a special election would be held in either March or April.
Should the decision be made to not pursue a bond, I will take the information gleaned from these meetings and incorporate it into our facility plan going forward.
I have been asked my opinion of this multiple times, so here it is…I do not have one and do not feel that I should. My children and grandchildren will not attend school in this district, but yours will. The average tenure of a superintendent in Kansas is a little over five years. We come and go. However, this is your home, your community, and your school. I am here to serve the district and to be a good steward of your money. The board members are elected by you to ensure your wishes are implemented if they deem they are in the best interest of the district. Honestly, I can see and understand both sides of the issue, but I think that if changes are going to be made on a larger scale, this is a good opportunity for that to happen.
I have linked cost estimates made by the firm Piper Jaffrey as to what a large scale improvement in the district would mean to all patrons living within its boundaries. I will follow up with more articles as we move through this decision making process. Please feel free to contact me at the district office if you would like further clarification or have any questions.
Please remember to go out and vote this month.
Have a wonderful November!