I am writing this letter to speak of the Nov. 7 bond election for Hays USD 489 schools. It has become obvious of the division of sides concerning the passage of the bond program. The announced mill levy increases the tax on an $150,000-valued home by $16.43 per month over a 30-year period. This is a longer period of time than I would wish to approve, but I must also acknowledge a major construction bond issue for our schools has not passed in 39 years. This brings the subject into perspective, as the maintenance conditions of our buildings and improvements for our students has been placed near the rear of our strategic planning for decades.
I have been privy to be involved in building construction and maintenance retrofits and services with my group of employees for some 42 years of my company’s 72-year history. I have worked on numerous types of buildings, programs and bond issues, many major in scope. Salina in the past 20 years has implemented two major bond issues as well as Garden City, Dodge City, Great Bend, Emporia, Liberal and Manhattan — most are similar in size and scope to USD 489. I have a concern we are being left behind in our educational community and the benefit to new business and families concerns of educational facilities available to them. After visiting with employees, there remains a question of the types of programs that can be provided in our current education institution. Some are limited by physical structure. We could lose people in several years due to the failure to act on this proposal. This should be a concern to economic development for Hays.
Some of the buildings in question were old when I went to school here in the 1960s, and unfortunately, other than a few updates and breakdown machinery repair done with capital outlay budget, not much if any programs have been enacted since the building of the high school 36 years ago. There were some renovations through the years and an air-conditioning of schools update but not a major review of all buildings, purposes and use, successfully fulfilled.
In all honesty, from my point of view, and those who work in my organization on technical side, the district has been utilizing equipment that’s served well past its use. The district has run the course of receiving its benefit from old machinery and its replacement lifecycle is at our doorstep. While I am conservative in nature and promote dedicated services to increase longevity, there are areas where we no longer have a decent return on the original capital. Concerns when calculating energy efficiency and zoning conditions of buildings are apparent.
I understand there are many who acknowledge the need and simply have issue with the methodology of the planning, reasoning, size and length of the bond proposal. In all the bond issues that I have been involved in over my career, I have rarely seen any that did not have some issues, misgivings or changes, especially in remodel programs.
I plan to vote in favor of the USD 489 bond issue Nov. 7 and not because I haven’t weighed the alternatives. We have done this for years, and we usually accept a substandard product in construction at the end because we delay in moving forward. We have enough information to make a decision. Regardless of your decision, which should be respected. I hope you vote. I will vote yes. Let’s move forward. I owe it to my children and grandchildren.