Letters to the editor


October 23, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Dear editor,
I feel it is important for all voters to understand state aid for capital improvement, otherwise referred to as bond and interest aid. This is the 51 percent funding that USD 257 would receive from the State of Kansas should the bond issue pass on Nov. 4.
KSA 75-2319 went into law in 1992. This is the legislation governing school district capital improvements; state aid entitlement; determination; amount; payments; applicability. The formula that determines the amount of state aid for improvements is factored by the size of the district (number of students) and the valuation of property. Based on USD 257’s valuation and size, 51 percent is what state aid would currently be for capital improvements. That amount is the high end of availability for aid from the state; 71 percent is highest at the moment.
I have heard several patrons mention that “the state is funded by taxes, so the 51 percent is just more taxes.” State aid for capital improvements or bond and interest is generated by tax dollars, however these are tax dollars that are already allotted to the state’s general fund from portions of various taxes already in existence. As a community we need to take advantage of the opportunity to bring those tax dollars back to Iola.
It is fact, that in the 2014 legislative session, Senate Bill 305, went to committee. This bill would have limited significantly the amount of funding schools would receive for capital improvements. The bill did not pass. Since legislation has presented itself in a similar fashion the past few years, it is wise to expect to see other bills like Senate Bill 305 in the future.
How does this factor in to the bond issue facing voters on Nov. 4?
The bond issue project is for $50 million. This is a number that is tossed around quite a bit. I feel that it needs to be emphasized that 51 percent less of this amount is 25.5 million. Interest will be at approximately 3.85 percent. Keep in mind the state aid at 51 percent also will apply to the interest as well. This is a huge savings.
Another factor is time. State aid for capital improvements may not always be available.
The 1/2-cent sales tax shared with the City of Iola will also be voted on Nov. 4th. This is a way to take a burden off of property owners who feel their tax increase will be too heavy on their pocketbook. On the other hand, this is a way for those who don’t own property to pay toward the bond issue. Even outsiders who purchase items within Iola will be contributing.
From a business standpoint, these are the facts as I see them:
1)    USD 257 has very old buildings
2)    The buildings are not ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant
3)    The buildings are not up to code with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
4)    There is not adequate room for Special Needs Children
5)    USD 257 has over half of funding available from state aid (this comes from existing taxes implemented since 1992)
6)    The likelihood of state aid decreasing or being eliminated is high
7)    3.85 percent is a very low interest rate
8)    1/2-cent sales tax shares the responsibility with those who spend money in Iola.
I’m sure there are other financial points that I could list. My intention was to point out a few financial facts and reiterate the importance of state aid. There are so many talented intelligent businessmen and women in this community. Taking advantage of these savings opportunities is a smart business decision and is putting tax dollars to the best use.
I challenge you to consider the facts that I have mentioned and to apply it to your own life. If your home was as aged as these buildings are and you had the opportunity to build a new home with over one-half paid for would you push to remodel? If you had the opportunity to have your interest rate at 3.85 percent would you opt out? If you had the opportunity to let others help you pay for your home by spending money locally, would you welcome their help? Some simple basic questions to make one think …
This town is where I raised my kids and my grandchild is being raised in this district. I’m proud of this community. I truly love all kids and want them to have the greatest learning experience possible. This election is not about who has all the answers and who doesn’t. Those who are not in favor want what they feel is best. Those who are in favor want the same. Voting is a wonderful privilege we have in our country. Vote on facts, Iola. If you are not sure of facts, ask questions.
Terry Taylor,
Iola, Kan.

Dear editor,
As I have been watching the continuing debate between Yes and No factions for a new school, I have been reminded of the same battle we went through in Chanute not too long ago.
The arguments were the same, the passions were the same. The facts remain the same. Ask yourself this question. Have you ever gone through a remodeling project in your own home? Did it ever cost less or even right on with the estimate you had when you began? If you are like most you will acknowledge that remodeling opens up so many unknowns and surprises that costs almost always escalate. You end up either spending more money or sacrificing needed changes due to lack of funds.
Then there is the question of location. Chanute, like Iola, had a centrally located campus which was landlocked by homes on all four sides. Our football stadium was across town which required bussing students daily for outdoor activities. In the old Chanute High School the top floor had been closed for several years due to unsafe conditions. The building did not comply with ADA requirements which posed a problem for physically challenged persons. In short, the building was dreary and not a place that encouraged learning, although many exceptional students did attend and excel there. For many more it became a negative experience.
The first attempt at passing a bond issue in Chanute failed. There was much discussion afterwards debating the cause of the failure. Those who felt any bond issue would fail due to the economic conditions decided to counter with a new bond Issue to renovate the high school. The debate was just as spirited as the first one. That bond issue passed narrowly. The old high school was renovated and while it did make the old school look better, the underlying problems remained. It wasn’t many years later when it became obvious that the renovation was a poor investment. It only postponed the inevitable. And so, many years later a bond issue was again voted on to decide if we should build a new high school in a new location. This time it passed.
You can imagine how much money the district could have saved had they built new in the beginning, saving the renovation costs not to mention the inflation factor of materials and labor. Iola has a chance to do the right thing the first time. The Chanute High School and the consolidated elementary school are state-of-the-art. They are much more conducive to learning and teaching. They have all the modern designs and features that will allow our children to compete on a worldwide stage when looking toward college and even entering the workforce. They also have energy efficient heating and cooling and were designed and built to withstand dangerous weather conditions.
The bussing of students, which was argued would pose a problem, has worked very smoothly and caused no problems that I am aware of.
Unfortunately, my six children did not reap the benefits of the new high school in Chanute. But, the children of neighbors and friends did and continue to benefit. In addition, my grandchildren are now benefitting from the consolidated elementary school. Attitude means a lot to a student and having a facility that is first class, and top notch, helps improve that attitude which increases their desire to learn.
I urge Iola residents to vote YES and put your students, and the future of Iola first. In order to be competitive in attracting new industry and businesses as well as employees looking to relocate to your city, you must show by your vote how important the future of Iola is to you. Don’t make the same mistake Chanute made and put off until later the inevitable.
Vote YES and show your children how important their education and their future is to you.
Denny Maher,
Chanute, Kan.

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