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 action at Monday’s meeting was not scripted in advance. I can understand how people might feel this way. The interplay between the actions of a citizens group and the board this summer rightly heaps suspicion on both groups, not to mention on Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, who many suspect is really directing the action in this drama. This architectural firm has a huge financial incentive for passing the largest bond issue possible.

But here’s my question: I wonder why it took courage to make this motion. After all, it’s for the “kids, kids, kids,” as board president Lynn Rogers said. And according to news reports, the district started with a list of $550 million in needed items, and then cut that down to the $350 million originally proposed for this bond issue. So this motion gets things closer to what the district believes it really needs.

So why the need for courage? Why stop at $370 million?

Could it be that Ms. Dietz realizes that the way the Wichita public schools raise money is through the force of government coercion?

Could it be that Ms. Dietz realizes the Wichita school district already has a tremendously large budget by any measure, and that asking for more would appear greedy?

Coould it be that Ms. Dietz has become aware of the Wichita school district’s monopoly on the use of public money for education, and how harmful this is to Wichita schoolchildren?

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