Archive for Thursday, January 19, 2006

Parents respond to bond-issue survey

Advisory council works to determine future of Basehor-Linwood schools

January 19, 2006

The rallying cry for schools -- and for the public's support of them -- has begun again.

Having been versed in mantras from Henry Ford and Dwight D. Eisenhower and seeped in anecdotes of overcoming adversity, the first half of a gathering Thursday, Jan. 12, seemed aimed at re-invigorating a crowd of pro-bond issue supporters, who were stung by a narrow defeat in November 2005.

"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success," a catchphrase once used by Ford, served as the blueprint for Thursday night's meeting of the District Advisory Council.

The group meets periodically to discuss education-related issues with district policy makers; Thursday's topic, and one quite familiar to the DAC, was the future of schools and steps the committee needs to take, in the wake of November's defeat of the bond issue.

Sticking with the consensus-building theme, Jerry Bailey, a Kansas State professor and facilitator of the meeting, said, "All of us are smarter than one of us."

"Your bond did not pass -- you took a blow to the nose," he said. Adding later, "If you give up, where's the future in that?"

Released to the DAC Thursday were results from a survey sent out at the end of 2005. The poll asked 1,075 parents their opinions toward the most recent bond issue and whether they would support a future ballot question.

A total of 38 percent, or 408 parents, responded to the survey. According to information released Thursday:

¢ 231 respondents indicated they voted yes on the last bond issue; 117 said no.

¢ 264 respondents indicated they would vote yes on the same proposal in the future; 118 said no.

Of those who voted no, 42 said they disagreed with the plan because of its $22.9 million price tag; 52 said they opposed the plan because of its content, which included plans for a new elementary school and renovations to all schools except the high school.

Survey results also indicated support is split regarding advanced ballot voting. During the last 15 years, advanced ballots is the only precinct that has drawn more votes in favor than against during bond issue elections.

When asked, "Would you be more likely to vote with an advanced ballot," 188 respondents said yes while 194 said no.

Also, by overwhelming numbers, most parents are unwilling to work on a "vote yes committee." More than 300 respondents said they would not work on a committee, compared to just 44 who indicated they would.

Also on Thursday, the audience worked in small groups in an effort to gain information, float ideas and begin reaching consensus for a future proposal, school officials said. No decisions were made during the group discussions, but talks are far from over.

The Basehor-Linwood school board will host a work session Jan. 30 to discuss facilities. The DAC will meet again Feb. 9.

Jill Hackett, school district superintendent, said of both meetings: "I think scenarios will be shared and people will at least want to revisit some things and talk about what is feasible."

The school district is not yet tied into any one idea regarding the future of district schools, the superintendent said.

That decision, she said, will be made with "a whole lot of logic rather than emotion."

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