Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Sunday December 5, 2010

Wichita City Council this week. Tuesday’s city council meeting has a busy agenda. First is the Community Improvement District policy, which was deferred from November 2. I believe the major issue to be resolved is requiring signage on stores or businesses that will be charging extra sales tax. It’s possible there might be a majority on the council who want the warning signs. Developers are opposed, saying that notification in advance drives off customers. Gee, who could have known that people don’t like paying taxes? The city is proposing a web site that identifies all CIDs, but this is a weak form of consumer notification that is pretty much useless, as correctly identified by council member Lavonta Williams. … There’s an appeal of a ruling that a woman has three horses on her property when rules allow one. … Several companies are requesting industrial revenue bonds and relief from paying property taxes: Bombardier Learjet, Cessna, and Coleman. … Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau will ask that its contract with the city be renewed. This is one of the organizations that has refused to fill my records requests, stating that they are not a “public agency” as defined in the Kansas Open Records Act. Go Wichita is budgeted to receive $2,121,390 from the city this year. The agenda report is available at this link.

DAB agendas missing. On Monday, four of the city’s six District Advisory Boards will meet. As of this moment, three of these boards don’t have their agenda available on the city’s website. Only the DAB for district 6 has its agenda available on the city’s website: The lack of availability of DAB agendas is an issue that the city should work to resolve.

Kansas legislators learn about education reform. Kansas Senator Julia Lynn reports on a trip by several legislators: “Five Kansas legislators received a wake up call after attending the National Summit on Education Reform in Washington DC. The big take away? Kansas is embarrassingly behind on education reform initiatives including the broader concept of choice, charter school legislation, tax credit and special needs scholarship programs and a myriad of educational technology and digital learning applications. … The focus of the conference centered on the need for nationwide reform calling out our present system of public education as factory model driven by the interests of adults and a monopoly that is neither efficient nor responsive. Burdened by outdated and ineffective systems like tenure, collective bargaining, and social promotion, our system is outdated and ineffective. Worse, the model is not capable of educating diverse children to be successful in a competitive world. Governor Jeb Bush, convener of the conference and founder of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, stated in his opening remarks that ‘We are at a tipping point. We must move towards reform that puts the needs of the child first through customization of education to the diversity of the child’. … Reform of our system will not occur overnight nor will it be comfortable. It will require hand-to-hand combat with those vested in the old factory model system so corrupted by interests of teachers unions and the education establishment.” It is not news to readers of this site that Kansas is lagging in education reform. See Florida school choice helps public schools, for example.


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