In support of the bond

Strong public schools are the corner stone of a successful community. We are writing to encourage the citizens of Newton to offer support of the upcoming bond election. We encourage everyone to consider the numerous benefits of this investment. Much is debated about how to grow our community, create jobs and entice young professionals to move to Newton. A vital aspect of an attractive community is its educational quality and willingness to invest in youth through state-of-the art learning centers.

Foremost, the safety and security of all our students is of utmost importance. Funding from this bond issuance will provide for safety and security upgrades to every school in the district. In this day and age, it is imperative that the citizens of Newton not take safety and security of our students lightly. The upgrades include: Security technology, controlled access, and security cameras at NHS, security technology and secured entries at all other buildings. It also includes storm shelters at several schools.

Also included in the bond project is fixing the problem of overcrowded classrooms at Chisholm and Santa Fe Middle Schools. Optimum teaching is best attained by keeping classroom sizes manageable, thus adding four new classrooms at both middle schools would help resolve that issue.

There have been open houses for community members to see for themselves some of the needs at Newton High School. Keeping current and proactive in the area of technology will provide our students with a competitive edge and enable them to excel in the future. At the High School level this means it is important that we redesign the original footprint to accommodate today’s teaching, including: expanding classroom sizes, creating collaborative spaces, installing state of the art technology and modernizing the science wing of the school.

Let your voices be heard that education is important. Providing proper school facilities, quality infrastructure and competitive technology advancements is essential to the success of Newton School District. Newton needs a strong school system to attract and retain new businesses and quality educators. If you live or work here in Newton, you benefit from ensuring the school district is the best it can be. Please vote “YES” for the USD 373 Bond in order to send the message that we support our kids and that our community is worthy of this important investment.

— Mike and Karen Farrell, Newton

 

Voting yes

This week, I will be voting YES for kids by supporting the USD 373 school bond.

I am impressed with the careful analysis, evaluation, and difficult work done by the Board of Education, administrators, and teachers that developed this important bond proposal. As a USD 373 parent, past employee and social worker, I am excited to cast my vote in support of this bond for the following reasons:

First, this bond benefits everyone in our community. Whether or not you work for the school or have a child in the district, our entire community is better when the quality of education is improved across the board. I am a happier community member when I can encounter people at the grocery store, bank, or in my neighborhood who have benefited from a quality education. It also means that our potential for recruiting new students increases. Raising the standards in the schools also raises the standards for the entire community, and this is important to me.

Second, I want to support the arts. I have had three children who have benefited from their participation in the fine arts programs through USD 373. These experiences have enriched their perspectives, stretched their self-esteems, and provided scholarship money and incentives for them to go on in their education after high school. As a musician myself, I am keenly aware of the ways in which fine arts education enhance skills and abilities as an adult. It is past time we invest in these endeavors, which in turn, benefit us all (note the beautiful murals downtown and/or the numerous concerts and events offered to the whole community throughout the year).

Finally, investing in schools is investing in our future. These children are going to be the grown-ups who will be in charge of life in 30 years—the ones who will care for us and who we will need to trust for our own well-being. And they are watching our decisions now. Let’s show them that we believe in their capabilities, we support their initiatives, and we are willing to back up their future now.

Vote “yes” for kids.

— Jennifer Chappell Deckert, PhD

 

Come back home

As a lifelong Railer, I’d like to express my support for the USD 373 School Bond. I went to Lincoln Elementary School, Santa Fe Middle School, and graduated from Newton High School in 2000. After high school I left Newton, moved out of state, worked an assortment of jobs, graduated from college, got married and came back home to start my family 16 years later.

Small towns like ours are shrinking in population because our kids are moving away after high school and most are not returning home. These Railers are choosing to live in large cities or suburbs instead of coming back to their small hometowns. They do this because they want access to quality housing, libraries, pools, restaurants, parks, and schools. Young families like mine want to live in communities that invest in themselves. We want to live in communities that foster growth and care about the next generation. Many of my friends are choosing other nearby communities to lay down roots; Valley Center, Park City, Maize, Goddard, Derby – and it is not because those places are more affordable. They are choosing what they consider the “best” school districts for their children and buildings are a big part of that decision. If we want to grow our tax base and give kids a reason to come back home to start their families, we have to invest in our schools.

I think anyone who has been in our schools recently can agree they need to be updated. I remember the high school specifically; the paper-thin walls, the old and outdated classrooms, the poorly designed science labs, the crowded PE classes, the embarrassing pool and locker rooms, and the “storm shelter” corridors. We still have these problems in 2019 and it is time to address these issues. I am proud to support our school district I hope you will join me in voting yes for the USD 373 School Bonds.

— Cameron Becker, Newton

 

Vote yes on Question 2

I understand the decision to close the school in Walton and move the ag program to a new school is difficult. As a member of the board of education, I can honestly say that none of us want to close a school. We are elected to make hard decisions in the best interest of our community.

We need to either remodel Walton or build a new school. There is no way around it. The building in Walton was not designed for its current usage. It was built in 1963 as a one-section high school, not a two-section elementary with an Ag Program. It is too small, there are water pooling and mold issues, they are using closets as reading spaces and offices, and there is no teacher lounge. We can do better than this.

Question 2 of the upcoming school bond issue provides for a new 3-section school for grades K-6. It will be located south of highway 50 and built specifically for the Rural Life curriculum.

Last year 34 of the 205 Walton students lived in the City of Walton and surrounding rural area. The rest are bussed from Newton. This year only seven of the incoming kindergarteners are from Walton. Last year Walton had 35% of its kids on free or reduced lunch, while the rest of Newton elementary schools were between 52-69%.

Bringing this program into Newton, into a bigger school, and extending it 2 years will allow more kids of different socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to experience the ag program. There is no waiting list for Walton. The unique and awarding winning program should have a waiting list. I believe moving the program into Newton will do just that.

The failed 2017 bond had $11.7 million in it to remodel Walton. A new and bigger school south of Newton will cost $24 million. Either way, it’s a lot of money. As a community, we need to decide where to invest our money. We need a long-term solution, not another band-aid to keep Walton open a few more years. I believe building a new school, south of Newton is the right choice. Please join me in voting yes for question 1 and 2. Vote yes for kids, for teachers, for families and for our future as a community.

— Angela Becker, Newton

 

A vote YES for KIDS is a vote for Newton

My husband and I moved to Newton for one reason, to be near our grandkids. What we found was a delightful small town which we are proud to live in. Our grandkids will have graduated by the time the improvements to the USD 373 schools occur. As retirees, we still strongly support both Item 1 and Item 2 of the USD 373 Bond because we support Newton!

I have seen concerns on social media as to the “cost.” In our opinion the cost of not supporting our schools is far greater. A town that does not support education is a dying town. Young families want to live in communities where their children have access to modern facilities so they move away to towns such as Valley Center, Goddard and Maize. Employers follow because they need a good pool of workers to draw on. Retailers are hurt because retirees do not spend as much on day to day items as young families. Resale values go down which has a direct effect on the elderly when they sell their home.

The high school is almost 50 years, and, in the words of a Newtonian who graduated from the high school when it was new, “nothing has changed, it is the same school I went to.” Upgrades are desperately needed so the kids are in an environment where they can learn. A new school on the south side will address overcrowding and further attract new families to Newton. This broadens the tax base and in the long run has a direct effect on your taxes and quality of life in Newton.

Newtonians remember the high school as it was when they went to school and have a great deal of school pride. The reality is it is an old building that needs work. Don’t today’s kids deserve the same type of chances you had as a child?

Let’s show some Railer pride and vote YES for our kids and our schools.

— Liz and Bob Pomeroy, Newton KS 67114

 

Supporting the bond

The Board of Education has proposed a two question school bond. Question one would include upgrades to Newton High School in the areas of improved safety, an added science wing and more.

As we all know, school safety in America is a national, and local, priority. Safety is of the utmost concern, now more than ever. Students across the district have expressed feelings of unsafety, and that needs to change. Unsafety in the classroom impairs students ability to learn.

That is inadmissible. Another issue with the high school is the science facilities. Having no functional remodeling since 1973, with outdated equipment, cramped spaces, and deteriorating facilities, these classrooms are not meeting the needs of our students. This has to change.

One program in the district that has received very little funding over the years is the fine arts. Orchestra, band, choir, and theater all share one auditorium. This auditorium is inadequate, the NHS fine arts program deserves a space that they can take pride in.

As you may already know, overcrowding is a major issue in our schools. This is more true than ever in our gymnasiums. Overcrowding in the High School creates a hindering in students and teachers abilities to use the space effectively. This would be solved by adding an additional gym/storm shelter, as proposed in the bond. Another issue resolved by the addition of a gym would be safety. Currently, there is no designated storm shelter in the highschool. In the event of a natural disaster, our students are facing a severe risk. This is unacceptable.

Question 2 proposes a new elementary school that would be located on the southside of town.

Currently, most school buildings are on the north side of the town, putting a strain on busing across town. This new school would be an agriculture and project based learning charter school, much like Walton. The buildings at Walton are dysfunctional at best. What the school lacks in facilities, it makes up for in program and staff. This bond proposes a building that finally bring
the amazing staff a quality space, improving the experience for everyone.

The ballots will be mailed to your home, for our sake and for yours please vote yes by Sept. 3.

— Lennon Tyner and Ethan Neufeld, Newton, Current USD 373 students