ABLE backs bond issue
District teachers issue statement urging yes vote
Basehor-Linwood district educators recently made a bold statement to school board members and the public.
The Association of Basehor-Linwood Educators (ABLE) made up of about 80 Basehor-Linwood school district certified teachers, announced its support for the upcoming bond issue. The support came via a statement read Monday evening during the school board meeting.
"The educators of our district experience firsthand the critical issues that have emerged due to continued growth in our communities," Suzette Downing, third-grade teacher at Basehor Elementary School, said while reading the prepared statement. "Past experience has taught us that there is no proposal that will please everyone, but we believe this plan serves the needs of district patrons and especially the growing needs of the students we serve every day."
Downing, who was also on the facilities planning committee, said this was the first time the association has announced its support for a bond issue in the seven years she has been a member. The decision to make the statement came after an almost unanimous vote from association members.
"By an overwhelming majority they did vote yes," Downing said. "I think teachers want the community to understand that we do see a need."
This particular bond proposal covers all buildings in the district and addresses the need for growth in appropriate areas, Downing said.
One of the largest concerns for teachers, she said, is keeping class sizes smaller, but that is becoming harder because there is no space to do so. The statement also said teachers are direct witnesses of the overcrowding in the district and how it affects learning.
"The fact that it reaches every student is one of the positives," Downing said. "At this point, I haven't heard any major concerns with the bond."
Growth in the district is becoming more evident as the final enrollment count date, Sept. 20, nears.
Superintendent Bob Albers presented the latest enrollment figures Monday night, including the breakdown of each grade level and classroom in the elementary schools and Sixth Grade Center.
As of Monday, 1,866 students were enrolled in the district, up 44 students from last year's Sept. 20 count of 1,822 students.
Brenda DeGroot, director of Basehor-Linwood Virtual School, said there were 327 students enrolled in the Virtual School as of Monday for a combined enrollment of 2,193.
"We still have 10 days to go until the final count date," Albers said Monday. "We still expect some of those numbers to go up. These are the numbers that will help determine what our actual budget will be."
While reviewing the classroom breakdowns with board members, Albers noted the third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade class sizes were the largest on average, ranging anywhere from 18 students in the single section of fifth grade at Linwood Elementary to the full three sections of fourth graders at BES with 25, 25 and 26 students per classroom.
Albers said intermediate grade level classrooms are considered at capacity when they reach 26 students. After that, more sections would be added to accommodate students.
"We no longer have any room to add sections," he said.
Boosting the bond
Bond election committees are still hard at work spreading the word, Albers said.
The first two of three public bond issue meetings last week at the three elementary schools produced a sizable audience, while the third meeting Thursday at BES drew only one guest. Albers said the low turnout was most likely because of the several different sporting events going on that night.
"It was probably just a bad night," he said. "Parents are very busy and they probably didn't have time to come."
Committees also have met with area ministers, the Dairy Days Planning Committee, Friends of the Library, Parents as Teachers and Gold PRIDE. Informational meetings for other groups, including area subdivisions, the Basehor Chamber of Commerce, Linwood City Council and the Basehor Historical Society, are scheduled throughout the coming weeks.
Yellow signs that read "Bond Their Future" with the mail-in ballot voting period, Oct. 5 through 25 are displayed outside of each school building.
Albers said the biggest push so far has been voter registration.
"September 25 is the deadline to automatically receive a ballot," he said. "You can still register after that, but you'd have to request a ballot."
The next step for bond supporters will be to promote the bond and encourage patrons to vote "yes." And, in some ways that process has already begun. Not only did the ABLE members ask their communities to register to vote in their statement, they also encouraged them to "promptly return the mail-in ballots marked 'yes.'"
However, while Downing said the association has made its statement and students are beginning to talk about the bond issue, conversations between students and teachers in the classroom remain neutral.
"Students often ask, 'Mrs. Downing, are you going to vote yes?'" she said. "I just say, 'Well I'm not sure, but what I do know is, I will vote.' All they (teachers) do in the classroom is teach the importance of voting."
In other action Monday night, the board:
- Tabled, 7-0, the AllofE Agreement until a formal and complete contract is available.
- Approved, 7-0, Board Policy Chapter H for first reading.
- Approved, 7-0, a choir trip to Atlanta in April 2008.
- Approved, 7-0, the second semester senior release proposal.
- Approved, 7-0, change to graduation requirements.
- Approved, 7-0, KCTE program improvement plans.
- Met in executive session for 15 minutes.
- Approved, 7-0, the resignation of Scott Beck, high school custodian, and the appointments of Clarence Felder, high school custodian, Angela Berggruf, Linwood food service, and Joseph Merino, high school football assistant coach.