I have to respond to some of the West Franklin USD 287 antics.
I don’t understand why the information meetings to tell us what they were going to do and how much it was going to cost were even held. The school board stated the numbers were not correct — so why not wait until they had at least a stable estimate?
The survey they had a company do and spent several thousand dollars on was thrown out — a waste of taxpayers’ money. The facilities committee study and vision statement were more wastes of time and money. A survey of concerned residents was taken at three community meetings — where they voted for Vision B, to keep all three schools open with improvements — and it also was disregarded.
At the school board meeting, the board voted to go ahead with Vision A — moving all students to Pomona. Vision A includes a new gym, an eight-lane, all-weather track, two flex classrooms and 17 cut staff positions.
The superintendent said the district probably would lose 60 to 100 students. In 2007, the district had 835 students when he took the job. Now it has 597 students. If 60 more students leave next year as he predicts, there will only be 537 students at West Franklin for 2013-2014 school year.
With that being said, the district would lose an additional $230,280-plus in funding just for the next school year. In a business mindset, if a business continues to lose money, that business would be bankrupt. I find this of concern because I question how long the school district would be able to continue losing children before it becomes insolvent. Does it make sense to spend millions of dollars on a school district that could become non-existent? Shouldn’t the board be concerned with the declining enrollment?
I did not attend any of the meetings about the proposed bond issue because I felt it would be just like it was seven to eight years ago when we were trying to appeal to the board, saying that reconfiguration of the district was not a good thing at that time. Same thing then as now: Our views fell on deaf ears!
Appanoose, Pomona and Williamsburg are all good communities with a lot of great people in each. I don’t want to see a wedge driven between us because of this bond issue.
The board has been neglectful in the maintenance of all district buildings, putting the district in the present state of disrepair.
What assurance, as the taxpayers, do we have that any new structures will be maintained? In 20 years, will we be faced with this same problem?
The board also has been wasting our time and money with these meetings, architects, contractors and surveys when they pay no attention to what the patrons want.
The board members have changed their minds several times about what the bond would be used for and the cost. How can we trust their numbers?
The resolution printed in the newspaper stated a specific cost, but the use of the money seemed very vague to me except for a new gym and a new track. I cannot support a bond issue that is not crystal clear as to the cost and use for it.
If this is really for our children’s future education, why is all the discussion about a new gym, a new track, upgrading the baseball field and cutting staff, but no mention of new educational classes? Are these additional infrastructures going to help our children get a job in the future?
If this board is looking to the future, why are they cutting out classrooms and limiting the number of students to one campus? Should things turn around and more students come to Pomona, where would they go? Would we need yet another bond issue?
If our district was growing and our students were offered more electives, I could see the need for something to be done.
My concern is if the enrollment declines during the next five years as it has the past five years, there won’t be a school district left. Therefore, the West Franklin taxpayers will be left paying high taxes for a bond issue that remains irrevocable.
I hope we can rise above all this petty bickering to remain good friends and neighbors. We and our families will still be here when the school is gone.
I do agree with one thing: Everyone needs to find out the facts and get out and vote.
My vote is “no” on the bond issue for West Franklin.
— Judy Simpson, Ottawa