Fortunately the school bond issue didn’t pass with all its obvious flaws.

Now is the time for the new school board members to get their arms wrapped around the needs of the district and move forward with a real plan on how to fix it.  One of their first items of business is to find someone or some firm who doesn’t have a financial interest in making the bond as big as possible to help with design.  The DLR group designs huge and expensive buildings that look great but do they really help with the education of the student?  Isn’t the most important thing in education the teacher?  How does it help the student to have a fancy new building and $30,000 of debt but no money left for quality teachers?

The school board should also consider shrinking the size of the committee that is deciding what is to be presented to the board for the next run at the bond.  When you have 24 people in a group you will end up with a massive, bloated bond like we did this time just to please everyone with a little something.  I would like to see a local builder with some skin in the game to be involved.  It would be great if someone who can say for certain what it costs to remodel a space is heavily involved, not just some magic multiplier that a company uses for one size fits all gut and redo.  Many good pieces are still in place that don’t need to be demolished, like what the plan was before.

Walton, don’t think your school will be shut down now that it didn’t pass.  Your facility is vital to the current needs of the district.  With better management (i.e. use the empty classrooms at the other elementary schools now) and just a few dollars your building can be put into shape for 20 more years of use.

Don’t forget the other taxing entities around either.  The city is still chewing on what to do about the police station.  The city commission bought a building with the plans to remodel, then demolish, then remodel, and now remodel the current building.  Now the city is in the commercial rental business with no clear idea when or if the building will be used in the future for the station.  I suppose it is fitting the city is in the commercial rental business along with being in the golf course and entertainment business.  Certainly more look before you leap should be applied when the city is looking at large capital expenses like this, the KLP, etc.  Rumors abound about groups wanting the city to build a spec building to "kick start" the KLP, I hope they don’t give serious consideration to this.  If it is a great idea to put up a large commercial building because there is large rental demand, then someone would have done it already with private money.

Citizens, keep vigilant.  You need to get involved.  You need to make the board meetings, city commission meetings, county meetings.  The elected officials on these boards will respond to your input.  When all they hear is crickets and no discussion from the public at large about any particular topic they will go with the information at hand.  They are in a tough, often thankless job of spending your tax dollars, but they chose to run and be there.  Don’t be shy about giving them a respectful earful occasionally!

— Jason Mitchell is a member of the Harvey County Republican Party leadership team. He can be contacted at jsmitch73@hotmail.com.