Like the five Hays USD 489 bond town hall meetings before it, the audience at Hays High on Tuesday evening was small, but they came to ask questions.
The Hays High meeting was the next to last town hall meeting designed to educate the public about the $94 million bond to fund school district facilities improvements.
The final meeting is at 7 p.m. this evening at 12th Street Auditorium, and the election, which includes a half-cent city sales tax, is scheduled for June 7.
One audience member said it was a shame the meetings have been sparsely attended. There were several school administrators and teachers at Hays High, but “very few moms and dads.”
She asked how people, especially those without children in school, would hear the message presented.
“How are they going to learn we need this so desperately?” she said. “It’s our future. It’s our town. It’s our city.”
Other school districts in the Western Athletic Conference “have brand new schools, brand new everything. We feel like the poor kids,” the woman said. “I don’t mind them being the poor kids if they learn the value of things. You can learn what it is to have a good quality education, but I’m just afraid that the tight-fisted people of Hays are going to look at money and not look at what the kids need. We’ve got to figure out a way to convince them this is needed, has been for years.”
Another audience member took issue with presenter Mike Morley’s comment that the schools lack security and someone can walk in at any time — often without notice.
“I have a daughter at Hays Middle School. Don’t all the schools lock their doors?” the man asked.
“The middle school is the only one that actually locks the door,” Superintendent Dean Katt said. “This plan would have every school have a locked entrance.”
“I can see a lot of it. I’m not a yes person. Security is a big part of it,” the audience member said.
When asked about future growth, Morley said a recent Wichita State University study’s 50-year projection was the Hays population would nearly double in size to 40,000.
Another audience member said he and his wife no longer have children in school but know education is important.
“I’m pleased to see that the auditorium is above the gymnasium, even though I know the gymnasiums are important,” he said. “I am associated with Hays Community Theater, and the arts are such a vital part of any community as well.”
The ballot question will have two questions for the bond — one asking voters to approve a bond in the amount of $85,135,000 for improvements and another in the amount of $8,900,000 for new gyms at Hays High and Hays Middle schools.
Early voting will be from May 19 through noon June 6 at the Ellis County Administration Center, Morley said.
“On June 7, it’s going to be a walk-in election,” he said. “It’s cheaper that way. There’s going to be two locations so it’s not going to be your regular polling places.”
The polling locations will be announced later, he said.