Editor's Note: This column has been edited to remove a reported misquote.
It is true I am against the school bond. That is no secret.
Why? I am against all wasteful government spending. The school is especially tough because the first thing out of the gate against anyone who would stand up and say no is they are anti-children, which is completely false. I am against career bureaucrats forcing a government monopoly on us that is failing. I am against a slick advertising group coming in and using the fear of a Walton closing to extort their votes. Also don’t let them use the fear of not getting the ‘free money’ from the state toward the bond. It is still your tax dollars paying for that ‘free money’.
I was a part of the group that was to develop the bond ideas. I was certainly in the minority when I pointed out that our Walton problem is that the administration busses 120 students there every day from the city of Newton even though we have several empty classrooms at the elementary buildings in town. It will take better management of existing resources but it can be done. Additional classrooms were built at the elementary level last bond issue 10 years ago and now they sit empty. Will we the taxpayers get the same treatment? Will they actually spend $12 million on Walton or realize others have said — Walton can be fixed for less.
$60 million is an obscene amount of money to spend in a small community like Newton. Do we really need three gyms at the high school? Yes there are needs, especially in the science area, but these needs can be addressed for less. What about the millions of dollars already collected in capital outlay? Where do those funds go? One would think with a budget of over $60 million each year the district could prioritize a little better.
The superintendant runs the district with the help of several highly qualified and highly paid assistants and department heads. The superintendant is supposed to be watched by the school board. When you get a board that just rubber stamps everything you get to where we are now, them asking for $60 million more in bond money. This is why paying attention to when you vote is so important. Quit putting people on the board who just say they love the kids and put people on who have a backbone and can push the district to be more efficient.
Teachers, don’t think I hate on you either. You are forced to do things you don’t like as well. Many of you enter the field of education because you truly love to teach. Your passion gets snuffed out quickly by an overbearing administration that has a myopic view of how things need to be. Most of the subjects taught today are no different than they were 30 or even 50 years ago. Two plus two still equals four. You still lose electrons at the anode. Rome is still an empire that changed the direction of western civilization 2000 years ago. Young minds are still inquisitive and eager to learn. Young boys are still balls of energy and hard to keep still long enough to learn. It is the profession you chose not because it is easy but because it is your passion.
Don’t lose sight of what is good for the greater community just because you are being bribed with what you want. Why hang $60 million more debt on such a small community just because you are getting your gym or your science lab or your school? Fix your problem with common sense. The answer for public schools always seems to be "more money" when better management will fix most problems.
Vote NO on the bond on Nov. 7 and vote for commonsense board members who will push the district in the right direction.
— Jason Mitchell is a member of the leadership team of the Harvey County Republican Party. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.