By DELVIN KINSER
USD No. 480 Board Prsident
After months of study, public meetings, planning and good old fashion debate; the time has come for Liberal residents to decide the future of our schools.
Our buildings have served Liberal well, but many of them have outlived their original purpose of providing a place for Liberal children to receive the best education possible. Our technology-driven world demands that we offer today’s students more than a classroom with desks in rows and a teacher armed with a textbook and chalk.
Modern educational facilities coupled with our committed, technology savvy teachers will give the next generation the foundation needed to be successful.
That brings me to the school construction plan before us. I’ve never been more proud of the community effort that has brought us to this vote. Liberal residents from every walk of life took part in the plan’s development and formation of the final product. Dozens of community meetings not only tweaked the plan to its current form, but also gave every resident the opportunity to offer their “two cents.”
Liberal has been given a tremendous opportunity. The financing proposed for this plan is extraordinary. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to meet current and future needs for essentially 29-cents on the dollar. The proposed 49% state match, a half-cent sales tax to cover 22%, and only 29% directly on the property owners gives us the biggest bang for our bucks.
Everyone knows a “no” vote won’t mean no increase in property tax. Student populations have grown steadily and will continue to do so. USD 480 will be forced to create more classroom space in the years ahead. If the current bond program fails, and with attitudes toward rural Kansas quickly changing in Topeka, all of the cost of future expansions will fall on property owners alone.
However, I am encouraged by what I hear in this community. More people are excited about the future than those who are not. The people of Liberal know that giving our kids and grandkids the best possible educational experience is foundational to growing our economy in every sector. We know prospective business and industry are watching what we do. We know professionals like doctors, attorneys, and others want to know if we are ready move forward. We know our teachers are ready to see if we are committed to the future of our children.
I believe the answer is an emphatic “YES, YES!” Yes in support of the bond issue, and yes in support of the half-cent sales tax to help pay for it. This opportunity may never come our way again. I encourage you to be a part of the solution for education in Liberal. Vote “Yes, Yes” on Election Day, April 8th.