Connie Dietz

What are opinions of the level of Kansas school spending?

What are opinions of the level of Kansas school spending?

Part of the difficulty in understanding and debating school spending in Kansas is the starting point, that is, the lack of factual information. From 2012, a look at a survey that revealed the level of knowledge of school spending by Kansans. When asked about the level of spending on public schools in Kansas, citizens are generally uninformed or misinformed. They also incorrectly thought that spending has declined in recent years. These are some of the findings of a survey commissioned by Kansas Policy Institute and conducted by SurveyUSA, a national opinion research firm. In a press release, KPI president Dave…
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Citizens generally misinformed on Kansas school spending

When asked about the level of spending on public schools in Kansas, citizens are generally uninformed or misinformed. They also incorrectly thought that spending has declined in recent years. These are some of the findings of a survey commissioned by Kansas Policy Institute and conducted by SurveyUSA, a national opinion research firm. In a press release, KPI president Dave Trabert said "As Kansans consider how to deal with the potential fallout from another school lawsuit, pressure to expand Medicaid, ballooning pension deficits and concerns about rising property taxes, we wanted to check again to see how perceptions of the facts…
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Wichita school district discusses unspent fund balances

Last week the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district provided another example of the attitude of the board towards those who have opinions that are not aligned with the policies of the district and public school spending advocates. In this example it was Dave Trabert who appeared to speak to the board. Trabert is president of Kansas Policy Institute. His purpose was to present to the board some options the district has, based on a new state law, for managing its finances so that it could proceed without laying off teachers or eliminating programs. Board president Connie…
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Wichita school board: critics not welcome

A recent meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, provided insight as to the insularity of the board members and district staff, and as to how little meaningful discussion or debate takes place at board meetings. At the June 20th meeting, Dr. Walt Chappell, an elected member of the Kansas State Board of Education, used a slot on the public agenda to address the board about the upcoming budget. Chappell received a chilly reception -- to say the least -- from board president Connie Dietz. Chappell has been outspoken in his criticism of the way…
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Kansas ‘pigs at the trough’ award goes to …

Last week the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) made a presentation on Kansas school finance in Wichita. KASB is making similar presentations around the state. Mark Tallman, Assistant Executive Director/Advocacy for KASB, made the Wichita presentation. At the end of the presentation, Wichita school board member Connie Dietz stepped forward and addressed Tallman. She asked Diane Gjerstad, the Wichita school district's lobbyist to join them at the front. Dietz said that earlier this year, an organization had labeled schools as "pigs at the trough." Saying she is speaking for herself only and not on behalf of any organization, Dietz…
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Kansas school spending lobby impossible to satisfy

A new report by the Kansas Policy Institute provides some insight into the voracious appetite of the Kansas school spending lobby for taxpayer dollars: There's never enough. In A Kansas Primer on Education Funding, Volume III: Analysis of K-12 Spending in Kansas this story is told: So the rumors of school funding wars persist, with legislators and taxpayers asking "how much is enough?" and schools pressing for more money with no real end in sight. Speaker Pro Tem Arlen Siegfreid (R-Olathe) shared with me a conversation he had with Mark Tallman, Assistant Executive Director/Advocacy for the Kansas Association of School…
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Wichita school district turf vendor selection process unlawful, board members told

At last night's meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, citizens learned that the process used to select the vendor for artificial athletic fields was flawed and violated Kansas law. The district will start over, almost from the beginning, and use a competitive bidding process to select the firm to install the fields at five high schools. The result is that the fields will not be available for the coming football season. Interim Superintendent Martin Libhart announced that a hearing committee had been working all day, and that its recommendation was to reject and revoke…
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At Wichita school district, it’s always kids first, sometimes

At a recent meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, board member Connie Dietz affirmed the district's policy of always putting kids first. At least in words, that is. Scolding a member of the Kansas State Board of Education, she said "This board always, always puts children first. And don't you ever come back to us again and say we don't, because we always put kids first." (The video is at Wichita school board video shows why members should not be re-elected.) Ms. Dietz's indignation might be a little more convincing if the board's actions…
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Wichita election results equal status quo, worse

The result of yesterday's elections in Wichita is an endorsement for the status quo. For those interested in liberty, free markets, and education in Wichita, the election was a total disaster. On the Wichita city council, the two incumbents running for re-election won. For the open seat, Janet Miller won. While her website talks of fiscal responsibility, it's a safe bet that Miller is on the side of increasing the size, scope, and intrusiveness of city government. The election of Miller doesn't signal a huge shift on the council, as Sharon Fearey, her predecessor, favored an expansionary city government. For…
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Dr. Chappell asks the Wichita school board to NOT sell bonds

After seeing the way several members of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, treated Kansas State Board of Education member Walt Chappell at last Monday's meeting, I contacted him. I was curious as to what his rebuttal would be to the scolding he received from board members Connie Dietz and Betty Arnold. Board president Lynn Rogers was gentler, but no less contemptuous. See the post Wichita school board video shows why members should not be re-elected for more coverage of this, including video. You can read the agenda for this meeting by clicking on Board of…
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Wichita school board video shows why members should not be re-elected

On Monday March 30, 2009, Walt Chappell, who was recently elected to the Kansas State Board of Education and whose district overlaps some of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, spoke before that district's board. The hostile reaction by board members, which you may view on video that I captured, is remarkable for the insight it gives us into the board and its members. Wichitans should have no confidence in the governing ability of this board, whether they have children in Wichita schools or not. Chappell has a lot of experience and understanding of education issues in Kansas. His…
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Karen Walker for Wichita school board

Karen Walker is a strong candidate for board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district. Her commitment to fiscal responsibility is refreshing. With training and experience in accounting and auditing, she will help hold down costs plus provide transparency about where our tax dollars are being spent in Wichita schools. Connie Dietz is her opponent. For years, Dietz has been a major obstacle on the Wichita Board of Education to any significant change in how our students are taught or ways to reduce costs. She made the motion to add $20 million to the bond election to build expensive…
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Wichita school board members should not be re-elected

Next Tuesday, four members of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, seek to be elected again to their current posts. These members -- Lanora Nolan, Lynn Rogers, Connie Dietz and Betty Arnold -- are part of a board and school district that is increasingly out-of-step with education reforms that are working in other parts of the country. Their policies and actions are harmful to both Wichita schoolchildren and Wichita taxpayers. At the time when most of the country is starting to realize that quality teachers, not the number of teachers, is what makes the biggest difference…
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Wichita school board of education campaign contributions

Recent campaign finance reports filed by candidates for the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, show some contributions that may be of interest to Wichita voters. I've compiled a table of some of the contributions. This table is not comprehensive. It includes only the three incumbent candidates that have challengers: Lanora Nolan, Lynn Rogers, and Connie Dietz. Joe Johnson, head of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, the firm that the Wichita school district selected without any competitive bidding to manage the implementation of the bond issue and the largest contributor to the bond issue campaign from last…
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Increasing the Wichita School Bond Issue: Why Was Courage Required?

Talking to news media during a break in the meeting of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on Monday August 11, 2008, Connie Dietz referred to her surprise motion to increase the amount being asked for by $20 million, remarking "I knew what I wanted to do, and I guess I was trying to find the courage to do it." Personally, I want to take Ms. Dietz at her word when she says that her motion was unplanned. But I've talked to quite a few people in the community, and no one I've talked to believes that the board's…
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How to Pass the Wichita School Bond Issue

For tonight's meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, a resolution has been prepared that calls for a vote on a proposed bond issue to be held on November 4, 2008. I don't know if the board will vote to approve this measure or if they will even take a vote tonight, but I suspect the resolution will pass. Randy Scholfield's editorial Put school bond issue to public vote is correct in its assessment of the feckless campaign in favor of the bond issue. But it's not all the fault of the school board or…
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Wichita School Board Poisons Democracy

You may listen to this article in audio form by clicking here. On February 11, 2008, the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, passed a resolution calling for a special election to be held on May 6, 2008, so that citizens could vote on a $350 million bond issue. On April 7, 2008, the same board held a special meeting at the request of Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education, a group that supports the passage of the bond issue. Two members of CARE asked the board to delay the election. As the meeting agenda did not allow…
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Wichita School System Extends Its Monopoly

On Saturday February 12, 2005 I attended a meeting of the South Central Kansas Legislative Delegation. Lynn Rogers, then the USD 259 (the Wichita public school district) school board president, and Connie Dietz, then vice-president of the same body, attended. There had been a proposal to spend an additional $415 million over the next three years on schools. Asked if this would be enough to meet their needs, the Wichita school board members replied, "No." At least Mr. Rogers was not lying. More spending than that was approved, and true to his word, the Wichita Board of Education found it…
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Latest Federal School Finance Spending Revealed

Here is an article from the Kansas Taxpayers Network that reports on school spending: http://www.kansastaxpayers.com/editorial_fedschool.html. On Saturday February 12, 2005 I attended a meeting of the South Central Kansas Legislative Delegation. Lynn Rogers, USD 259 School Board President, and Connie Dietz, Vice-President of the same body, attended. There has been a proposal to spend an additional $415 million over the next three years on schools. Asked if this would be enough to meet their needs, the Wichita school board members replied, "No."
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