I moved to Elsmore from Derby just a little over two years ago. My parents were born and raised in the rural area of Elsmore so I have fond memories of spending my weekends at my grandparent’s farm, by Bourbon County Lake. My dad would spend his weekends hunting and fishing with my uncles and grandpa. My mom would spend her time visiting with her sisters and mom. We kids would play outside all day long, coming in only for the meals.
When I was in high school my parents decided to move back to this area. I graduated from Marmaton Valley High School. Of course, after graduating from Moran and Allen County Community College, I moved away to finish my college at WSU. I stayed in the Wichita/Derby area for the next 25 years. It was always a dream of mine to get back to Elsmore, so, after my daughter graduated from Derby High School, I moved back here. I just love this area. I have always loved Iola. I had so much fun attending ACCC back in the ’80s. I worked at Iola Grain Co. and enjoyed meeting and getting to know many area business people and farmers.
Since I started working in Iola I have met many new people and everyone has been friendly and helpful. I was very fortunate to get a job at Jefferson Elementary. I am a teacher. When I applied for the job, it had nothing to do with the building. I just wanted to teach. I would have taken the job if it had been in an old abandoned warehouse. The building is not what brought me to teach at Jefferson. However, if I lived in Iola, and had the opportunity to vote next week, I would vote Yes. I teach because I want to give the kids the best education I can deliver. I work hard at it every day and most nights and weekends, too. Teaching is not an easy job. You are a teacher because you love to do it. I want the best for my students every day and I feel they would be getting much better opportunities if the bond issue passed. I’m not going to repeat all of the reasons why the new schools being built will help the students. We’ve been reading about those reasons for weeks. I’ll just say that any time I can give MORE to my students: more opportunities, more space, more resources, more time, different teaching styles, more chances, etc… I want to GO FOR IT!
In Derby, where I lived and taught for 15 years, a school bond issue was voted on and passed two separate times. I can honestly say that I didn’t notice a change in my lifestyle because of the increase in the taxes. I never put something back on the shelf, in the store, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to pay the tax on it. The community takes pride in the new buildings and the school system is the driving force of the town.
I have felt that same pride for our school system here in Iola since the first day I started teaching here. I just want to see this district go as far as it can, with as many opportunities as it can possibly create!
Iola is going to vote on a new school in November and it got me to thinking about growing up. I started school at Welda. We had high schools in Garnett and Colony. Welda gone, Greeley gone, Westphalia gone, and in Allen County, Mildred gone, Elsmore gone, LaHarpe gone, Gas City gone. They were either closed or consolidated and yet the cost of education just keeps on going up. So is consolation the answer? How did we support those schools back in the day?
Well there was 150,000 farmers in Kansas at that time. There are 97,000 today. Divide that difference by 105 counties and that is a reduction of 504 farmers per county. At that time farming was a major portion of the tax base. Farmers paid taxes on the machinery and equipment. Every town had one or two grocery stores, grain elevators, hardware stores.
Look at Iola’s and Humboldt’s squares and all the small towns businesses are gone. These were affluent people in the middle class that is shrinking every day.The Wal-Mart’s and mass merchandisers with a new way of doing business have taken a toll on middle America. Yes times have changed and they are changing again. The internet with Amazon, eBay and many others, you can do business with anyone in the world and have it shipped to your door soon by a drone.
Education will be changing also according to Siman Lester of the Cato Institute who writes there is a revolution coming of online universities in leading institutions. Well it’s already here and it’s only going to get bigger. We are entering a period of experimentation with new models for higher education. It will disrupt this industry just as it already has in the music and book industries.
Here is what K-12.com says about their self. K12 is the nation’s leading foremost provider of proprietary technology-powered online solutions for students in pre-kindergarten though high school. K12 has partnered with more than 2,000 school districts and has delivered more than 4 million courses over the past decade. K12 provides curricula, academic services and learning solutions to public schools and districts, traditional class rooms, blended school programs and families. Kl2 works with more than 5,000 teachers across the U.S. The K12 programs are offered though K12 partner public schools in more than two-thirds of the states and District of Columbia. They offer total online school classes.
This would work very well in western Kansas where they can’t find teachers to teach as well as many small and large school districts that could offer courses like foreign language, computer science and other courses that districts can’t justify the salary. Schools will not have to consolidate. Do you need a new school to give our kids a good education? I don’t think you do. Chanute kids are not any smarter than Iola kids. It would give you a lot more pride in your town and might influence a large company to move to town, the tax abatement and cheap labor cost is always the determining factor. It’s not fair asking others in the county that is already paying for their schools to pay for yours. We are already paying for your streets and hospital in sales tax. I can justify this because I drive on the streets and could use the hospital. Good teachers not school buildings make kids smarter.
As a landlord I can raise the price of rent to offset the operating cost and I can buy my autos, building supplies, groceries elsewhere if they get too high. There is more property taxes coming regardless of the school vote. If Brownback gets back in he will either have to raise the price of property or sales tax or both to offset the money we’re coming up short on because of the reduction of income taxes. If Davis gets in, he is campaigning on raising taxes for education. He wants to hold income tax where it is, so that means both taxes will possibly increase. However the Tea Bagger legislators will fight him to bitter end.
Either way get out and vote.
We are finally at the moment of choice. Do we believe our legacy should be one of hope and commitment for our children and generations to come? Or should our legacy be old infrastructure in need of immeasurable repair?
There is an opportunity here to build a new school with the aid of a cost-sharing funding mechanism and the state will pay 51 percent of the bill. An opportunity that may not be available in the near future. This will be a time for us to use dollars from a fund we have been paying into for years. A fund that has been utilized by countless other school districts to create new campuses.
Perhaps this is a defining moment for our community as well as our schools. We are choosing more than a new building, more than a new campus. We are choosing to guarantee future generations that Iola is a viable community, a productive and progressive place for our kids to proudly come back to. Let’s be a community with the vision and energy to fulfill a commitment to our children’s children.
We need to get busy.
Vote YES for the bond issue and YES for the sales tax.
We are Roger, Terri, Madison, and Haley Carlin, and we wrote AND approve this message.