Archive for Thursday, April 7, 2005

Voters OK school bonds

Backers celebrate long-awaited victory

April 7, 2005

Lansing school bond supporters who were waiting for results at Leavenworth County Courthouse breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday night when early results showed that the bond issue was passing.

They cheered when an election official told them, "All the votes are in. Your bond passed."

And some broke into tears when they saw the final results posted, that the bond issued passed 1,727 to 1,361.

Lansing Intermediate School Principal Jan Jorgensen, who was silent early Tuesday night when asked whether she thought the bond was passed, was all smiles when the results came in.

"I wanted it very badly, but we've been defeated before," she said when the bond passed. "It is so awesome. We're just thrilled."

The $23.6 million bond issue will pay for construction of a new school for kindergarten through fifth-graders on district-owned land on West Mary Street. It also will pay for construction of a 900-seat auditorium at Lansing High School. District officials are hoping to open the new buildings in the 2007-2008 school year.

Jorgensen said she was glad her students would finally have a new building with adequate electricity and air conditioning.

Ali Zeck, a member of the bond issue steering committee, said Wednesday that one word described her feeling about the bond issue passing: "thrilled."

"Yesterday's vote shows we are truly a city that cares about its kids and the quality of education that they receive," Zeck said. "It was the right decision."

Chris Alford, a Lansing resident, was against the bond issue. He called it "overpriced" and said he didn't think the bond supporters had taken into account the action of the Kansas Legislature on its mandate to adequately fund schools, which may raise taxes in the future.

"The true effect won't come just with the bond passing," he said. "With gas prices going up and everything getting more expensive, money's going to be tight for a lot of people."

Betty Klinedinst, a former school board member who spoke out against the bond issue, said she thought it was a close race considering the number of voters. More than 1,100 more people voted in bond referendum than for the one in 2003, she said.

She said the other issues on the ballot, such as the "heated" mayor's race, probably brought out more voters than a stand-alone ballot for a bond, which was the case in 2003.

"The more people that vote, the more it tells us what people in the community want," she said.

Though the decision did not go the way she wanted it to, Klinedinst said she had accepted it and was looking forward to the new auditorium and elementary school.

"The next challenge will be to see how the board will fund operations of its new building," she said.

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