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  • skcablog 9:35 pm on October 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply  

    Confusion About Where New Bond Monies Will Be Spent 

    It’s anyone’s guess what’s happening in the Hickman Mills School District. First they ask the community to support a bond issue without delineating what the money will be used for – unlike previous bond issues under previous superintendents. Now the community has supported their request but still doesn’t know exactly what the funds will be used for. There are a bunch of vague ideas floating around but those seem to keep changing.

    One issue which has recently come up is the spending of $4M to build a new administration building or perhaps just buy a new building. One has to wonder where, in the district, is there land to be bought or what building is there to purchase? Perhaps the quintessential question is why is this necessary in the first place? I’ve been in the original administration building which won a design award when it was built. It is a fully carpeted building with wall treatments – not just simply paint – that had a newly refurbished reception area (from a previous bond). The board room actually looks like a board room and has several technical amenities including drop down screens so the audience can follow reports being given.

    As many in the community know, the Hickman Mills School District is the only school district to be certified by the National Parks Association as actually being on the alignment of the Three Trails (Santa Fe, California, Oregon). They run right through the building; in fact, through the original superintendent’s office. Some years ago, when metal sculptures representing those daring travelers who braved the trail hardships were installed on the grounds, there was a large gathering of community members and elected officials to see the land around the building consecrated by Native Americans from the Haskell Indian Nations University. This is all something the Superintendent purports to believe is an amazing asset for the district and the community; yet what is his proposal for this building? It’s not reopening it for its intended purpose. It’s storage!!! I say, and many would (and have) agree that’s sacrilege!

    The proposed new building will not only house administration and the board room, but Real-World Learning classes making it an administration/school building. In what other school district would that happen? In what business would a board of directors and CEO share space with one of their businesses? What school district doesn’t have a stand-alone administration center?

    While that, in itself, is disturbing, there are other issues. There was a presentation made in January stating that there will be two middle schools, each 6-8. Now the “Master Facilities Plan” says there will be one 6th grade center. When was that decided? The original presentation says the middle schools will be two academies: STEAM and Fine Arts. So middle school students (or 6th graders?) will have to decide which path they want to take? Do they know at that age? What if they start one and decide they don’t like it after all? Isn’t this a bit like putting all kids on a college track?

    A couple of other building issues are a bit of a concern, also. Johnson Elementary which was closed a few years ago due to declining enrollment is being proposed to reopen. As I understand it, it’s the smallest building in the district, having one less classroom per grade level than the other elementary buildings. Another school which was closed, Symington Elementary, is being proposed to reopen. It was always the building in the worst shape, primarily due to age, in the entire district; and many thought should be torn down.

    If an additional middle school is truly needed, why not reopen Baptiste as a middle school? After all it was originally Baptiste Junior High before being closed in the 80s due to decreased enrollment.

    Another proposal is a second Boys and Girls Club. One, which DaRon McGee promoted to be in the school district, is currently located in the middle school. (A building which is supposedly overcrowded.) Now there’s a proposal to add another location. How many are really needed in one relatively small school district? And why are we adding this competitor to LINC which has been in the district well over 10 years? Does someone have something to gain?

    There is one other looming concern. That is a demography study done under a previous administration which says the Hickman Mills School District will continue to have a declining enrollment for the next 10 years.

    While making these plans, and not being totally open with the community, one has to wonder if they’ve really been thought through. Have decisions been based on individual buildings or on a district-wide evaluation? Has bus ridership been taken into account?

    One also wonders if the Freedom, Inc. and John Sharp supported candidates, who hold the majority on the school board, are actually providing any kind of oversight or perhaps they don’t really care. Politically speaking, they only needed the bond issue to pass in order to score points with the electorate in a future election. As I understand it, the board doesn’t even see student population counts so they’re not even asking for relevant information to apply to the future of the district. No wonder bond plans seem to be such a jumble.

     
  • skcablog 5:55 pm on September 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: houselessness   

    House/Home-less Charade 

    If anybody out there thinks the City has forgotten about the houseless situation, you’re wrong. They have simply been working behind closed doors and now want to give the illusion of wanting public input. Typical. Late yesterday someone was perusing the city website and happened to notice there will be a public meeting to reveal the city’s big plan tomorrow at the South Patrol Station, 9701 Marion Park Drive from 9-11. Apparently, they want this meeting first thing on a Saturday so they can get on with the rest of their weekend. Again, typical.

    Councilwoman Parks-Shaw sends out regular emails on Fridays with updates on what’s happening around the city in the next week or so; yet, she neglected to include this info. Councilwoman Bough sometimes sends out the same type of information, yet she couldn’t be bothered to give a heads up on this either. These are the people who are supposed to be representing us; something they seem to forget.

    While I’m sure it can be agreed that a solution needs to be found to address the needs of our houseless, I also know suggestions have been made from the community and promptly ignored. Now the bureaucrats have once again come up with some plan which will be foisted on all of us. Then they will congratulate themselves for having solved another issue no matter what is left in their wake.

    Caveate: The term “houseless” was used because the city seemed to believe that was less offensive; however, you will notice in the message above that both “houseless” and “homeless” have been used. Make of it what you will, but it tells me the city, as usual, is only making a show of actual caring.

     
  • skcablog 5:15 pm on August 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    What is a Southland Sucker? 

    A Southland Sucker is anyone who votes for candidates who are endorsed by Southland Progress, the PAC (political action committee), which is the brainchild of John Sharp. In the August 2nd primary, longtime South Kansas City resident and activist Geoff Gerling was not endorsed by this PAC. Mr. Gerling was a board member and chair of the legislative committee of South Kansas City Alliance, a political group which was also the brainchild of Mr. Sharp. When it came time to support a lifelong South Kansas City resident, Mr. Sharp’s PAC failed to support “the most knowledgeable and qualified candidate” (from Mr. Gerling’s mailer) Instead, it was decided to support someone from downtown.

    Mr. Gerling learned a hard lesson: Mr. Sharp appears to support his own interests, not those of his community. That lesson was also learned by Annette Turnbaugh in Grandview. She is a veteran state representative and alderwoman for the City of Grandview; yet, in the August primary, Southland Progress supported a total new comer—someone who has not previously been involved in politics. A green mind is easily shaped.

     
    • Mike 11:39 am on August 11, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      John Sharp is a smart political operative, but voters are naive to think that is an asset to south KC. Also, he recognizes the political clout of Freedom, Inc (a legacy of the Civil Rights era which they no longer deserve), and follows their lead when working his magic on the minds of the local sheeple. He also needs Freedom on his side to insure the political future of his son, Mark. That’s where his interests lie.

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    • magawv 12:34 pm on August 12, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      I like Annette Turnbaugh however, I agree with the decision to support Anthony Ealy because Annette didn’t do anything while in office as far as sponsoring or co-sponsoring a bill or even an amendment. She also missed a lot of votes. I did my own research.

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  • skcablog 10:23 am on August 4, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Hickman Mills Community Loses BIG Time After Tuesday’s Election 

    The voters of the Hickman Mills Community have voted to increase their property taxes by $256.50/$100,000 assessed valuation. Supposedly that will increase teacher pay so the Hickman Mills School District will have the highest paid teachers in the area. Of course, what wasn’t stated is that administrators, including the Superintendent, will also be receiving pay increases. Cuts to the budget weren’t even considered before asking stakeholders to pay more in taxes. Because it was the school board that approved putting this issue on the ballot, it is the school board members (who this community voted for) who have demonstrated no concern for their patrons. (That’s certainly something to bear in mind when they’re up for re-election.)

    They actually have demonstrated no concern for the school district they’re supposed to be overseeing, either. Hickman Mills currently has the highest eviction rate in the city, per Councilwoman Parks-Shaw. When rents are raised to cover the increase in taxes, that eviction rate will only increase as will the number of transient students. It is those transient students who make it difficult for the school district to achieve full accreditation. Now it will only be worse.

    The other issue that was barely mentioned, is that Hickman Mills teachers will only be receiving the top salary until another district raises their salaries. Will our school board then ask its patrons to pay even more in taxes?

    This short-sightedness rings of politics, and politicos were certainly involved. DaRon McGee, current school board president, certainly has bigger ambitions. He was just elected to the Jackson County legislature. That in itself shows his interest in Hickman Mills is limited.

    Of course, the other two players were Freedom, Inc. and John Sharp with his Southland Progress (an ironic term). It was Mr. Sharp’s paper, the “Martin City Telegraph”, that was delivered to everyone’s driveway a week before the election with the information that property taxes would increase by $23 rather than the actual $256.50 which is a 25% increase.

    The other issue the Hickman Mills Community decided to approve was a bond issue for who knows what. There was vague talk of tearing down empty buildings, of having two junior highs; but there were no definite plans presented. When has that ever happened in Hickman Mills? In the past, voters have been presented with specifics as to what their money would be spent on. In this case, the school board, under Mr. McGee’s leadership, voted to put this on the ballot without themselves having any specific plans. Basically, they were asking the community to approve a pig in a poke and that’s exactly what happened.

    Again, Mr. Sharp seemed to be leading the charge on this. He was the one who toured one of the empty buildings; something even school board members haven’t done. He’s all about tearing down the original Smith-Hale building. He’s told several people I know that it’s built on “fill”, but has he seen a report from a geotechnical firm to confirm this? I’ve talked with a previous school board member who knows nothing about “fill”. Interestingly, one of the big contributors to the bond campaign just happens to be a construction company. A lot of Kansas Citians believe city council members vote in favor of construction companies over the community. Maybe old habits die hard.

     
    • magawv 2:54 pm on August 6, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      Schools need all the funding they can get in Missouri so I am glad the voters approved it. However, I believe funding public schools using personal property tax is wrong and is exactly the reason we have so much inequity in our schools. Need to find a better way to fully fund schools.

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  • skcablog 10:37 pm on July 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    Hickman Mills, Vote NO and NO 

    The Hickman Mills School District, with John Sharp leading the charge, would have you believe teachers begin teaching in Hickman Mills, but leave after a couple of years in order to make more money in another school district; that we are a “training ground”. For that reason and that reason alone, the tax levy needs to be raised.

    That may be a fallacy. There are other issues even beginning teachers look at.

    If you speak with teachers who are applying for jobs in any district, they aren’t just looking at starting pay. They look at the entire pay schedule to see where they might be several years from now.

    I would suggest they start at Hickman Mills only to find out how dysfunctional it is and then leave for better conditions. Everything starts at the top and the Hickman Mills School District has had a totally dysfunctional school board for several years now. Freedom, Inc. and Southland Progress PAC most likely recruited, backed and successfully elected to that board, people who have no idea what it means to be a school board member and have even less interest in what happens to the school district and the community it serves. They are simply self-serving sheeple.

    There is also the issue of tenure which isn’t ever mentioned. It takes 5 years teaching in the same district to become tenured. Those who teach in Hickman Mills for only 2 or 3 years and then move to a different district have to start that tenure track from the beginning. That, in itself, is a big decision. Again, I would suggest there is more than just dollars involved in those moves. Better working conditions can be a big draw.

    Do those living in Hickman Mills really want to increase their property taxes by $256.50/$1,000 of assessed valuation because the Board of Education itself is so dysfunctional?

    As for the bond, John Sharp has been seen on television and YouTube touring at least one of the closed buildings and expressing dismay and disgust at the state it is in. The damage can only be laid at the feet of the school district administration. They turned off the electricity to the buildings “to save money”. That means the expensive surveillance equipment which had been installed was also turned off. What could they possibly expect from such short-sightedness?

    Now they want additional money to do something with these schools. When I say additional I mean additional. I’m sure the community would be happy to see the buildings renovated, but now their tax dollars will also need to pay for some sort of remediation to the damage which the District, in essence, allowed to happen.

    While the bond does not come with a tax increase, it is still tax dollars that will be used to pay it off and those tax dollars could be put to better use.

    In fact, the District has not finished the work it promised from the last bond. Supposedly, there have been supply chain issues which is totally understandable, but won’t this call for a decision? Does the District complete the projects which they said were so badly needed when trying to gain community support to pass the last bond; or will they put a hold on those and start work on the current bond for which they are asking support?

    Several other districts are currently undergoing their own renovations/additions. Supply chains and workers can only be stretched so far. One has to wonder if any of this has been thoroughly thought out.

    There’s also the political angle. DaRon McGee, current Board of Education president, was once Mr. Sharp’s legislative aide and they have remained close. He is also now running for the county legislature (while remaining on the school board, thus splitting his time and dedication). Could Mr. Sharp, who has been pushing for this and was seen on camera appearing to be amazed at the damage, simply want a feather in Mr. McGee’s cap? He is quite the politician and knows what can be effective.

     
  • skcablog 9:38 pm on July 28, 2022 Permalink | Reply  

    Food for Thought 

    Last summer the Hickman Mills Board of Education held a retreat – at Stephen’s College.  It cost over $10,000.  Another retreat is scheduled for this August, again out of town.

    They’re asking those living in Hickman Mills to increase their property taxes by a huge amount, but turn around and spend  some of those tax dollars elsewhere rather than keeping them in their own community.

    Some board members are upset because it seems Board President, DaRon McGee (yes, that same DaRon McGee who was asked to leave the state house when he was a state representative) made the decision on his own rather than putting it to the board for a vote.

    It makes one wonder what he would do as a county legislator.

     
  • skcablog 3:20 pm on July 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Local Paper Obscures Size Of Property Tax Hike 

    As mentioned earlier, the online edition of the Martin City Telegraph headlined an article thus: “HICKMAN MILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT SEEKS TO RAISE TEACHER’S PAY WITH A NO TAX INCREASE BOND”. On this blog, we pointed out that bond money can’t be used for salaries, so this was obviously a mistake and should never have been written. Just this afternoon, the Telegraph issued a correction in the form of an email, which included the following information:

    While the latest edition, which many had thrown in their driveway, has information about the levy increase, which is what will actually be used to raise salaries, that information is at odds with what was recently posted online. The print edition states that “property tax on a home valued at $110,000 would increase by $23.51”. However, the online edition stated: “the proposed levy increase of $1.35 per $100 of assessed valuation would result in an annual property tax increase of $256.50 on a $100,000 home.” The actual formula was laid out: “Residential property is assessed for tax purposes at 19% of fair market value, so multiplying $100,000 by 19% results in $19,000. Dividing that by $100 results in $190, and multiplying that by $1.35 results in the $256.50 annual increase.” How many people who got the erroneous information from the print edition will have received the correction by email? Only a few, it’s safe to say.

    The online edition also stated the obvious: “The proposed levy increase will put Hickman Mills’ salaries at the top of these salary comparisons until other districts raise their salaries.” (Italics added)

    One has to wonder if the district is now trying to pull a fast one or if the Telegraph simply messed up. The online edition was authored by John Sharp. He’s been on the school board and he knows how levies work. The latest print edition was authored by Max Goodwin, a young man with little experience. For the cynics out there, I offer a third choice. Perhaps Mr. Sharp saw the error of his ways in being truthful and knew the levy would not pass if people realized how much their taxes would go up and so gave Mr. Goodwin different figures.

    Whichever scenario is correct, there is one other bit of information the district has not relayed to the community. Besides actually stating the obvious that levies will continually need to be raised in order to continually raise salaries rather than trying to make cuts in the budget to fund those increases, every school district in Missouri is about to get a windfall. The state is supposed to pay 75% of school transportation needs; but like the state formula for education, the state’s share of transportation has not been fully funded. That is about to change. Beginning next year, the transportation subsidy will be fully funded and school districts will find themselves with a windfall. Perhaps that could go towards salaries rather than asking patrons to increase their taxes. According to Council Woman Parks-Shaw, Hickman Mills has the highest eviction rate in the city and the highest rate of student turnover. That will only increase if this levy passes.

     
    • skcablog 9:36 pm on July 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      In an email to constituants, State Representative Mark Sharp reports: “Governor Parson recently approved a record $47 billion operating budget for the new fiscal year that includes $214 million for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to fully fund the state’s share of local public school districts’ student transportation costs. This is the first time this has happened in three decades.

      The budget also includes another $27 million in matching funds as an incentive to increase minimum salaries for public school teachers to $38,000 a year by offering a 70-30 state-local match.”

      Like

  • skcablog 8:25 pm on July 26, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Frank White   

    Be Careful Who You Vote For 

    Mail carriers are once again tasked with delivering lies and innuendo to our doors. The campaign literature just seems to keep piling up.

    Of course there was the mailing from Frank White who is running for re-election as Jackson County Executive. He says he’s “proud of all we have accomplished…”. I’m sure most of us remember the property assessment fiasco. That’s an accomplishment to be proud of. Under “A Track Record of Successful Leadership” he has listed “Royals Hall of Famer”. I’m not sure that was due to his leadership; also, not sure how that relates to being county executive.

    But moving on, many of us in the Southland look forward to receiving the Freedom, Inc. and Southland Progress mailers. They always tell us who not to vote for. The best example is DaRon McGee (DaRon is spelled wrong on the Freedom, Inc. “Official Ballot”.) Does anyone remember his little clash with Patti LaBelle back when he was John Sharp’s legislative aide? Check this: https://www.tonyskansascity.com/2019/04/pattie-labelle-was-right-to-boot-him.html. Of course Mr. Sharp was forced to let him go after that.

    Then he got himself elected to the State Legislature and had to leave that in disgrace. If you don’t remember, you can check these articles: https://www.kcur.org/government/2019-04-30/missouri-democratic-rep-daron-mcgee-resigns-amid-sexual-harassment-allegations and https://www.kshb.com/state-rep-daron-mcgee-of-kansas-city-resigns-amid-allegations-of-improper-conduct-with-employee. There were also rumors he helped himself to money from his party’s treasury but that got covered up. Political parties always look out for themselves.

    Obviously, everyone has to make up their own mind about who to vote for, but I have to wonder: If both of these groups are backing someone with DaRon McGee’s well documented background, what don’t we know about the other candidates they’re backing?

     
  • skcablog 11:21 am on July 25, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cycling, governance   

    Bicycle Master Plan Escapes Scrutiny 

    Cudos to Tony. He certainly got this one right.

    When street projects are planned, the city holds pubic meetings in order to take comments from the community. Of course, they go ahead with whatever was planned in the first place. They just make a show of interest/caring. With the bike lanes, they’re simply showing their true colors. They don’t really care at all what the community thinks or wants.

    Bike lanes can be a good thing, both for the environment and the exercise. They’re certainly all over England and Europe – as are sidewalks – so we’re basically behind the times here on both counts. There is apparently a Bike KC Master Plan, though in many instances it seems like bike lanes just get put in willy nilly; often where Councilman Bunch wants them. Cudos also to the third district for wanting a halt to new bike lanes until there’s community input.

    It might be interesting to see a survey of how many are aware of this “master plan”. When was it even developed and who was involved? Also, $150,000 to $200,000 per mile (according to Tony’s) is an awful lot of money from a city that says it doesn’t have enough dollars to fix our roads.

     
  • skcablog 11:20 pm on July 18, 2022 Permalink | Reply  

    Telegraph Editorial Likely to Confuse Voters 

    Just got around to reading the June 8 online issue of “The Martin City Telegraph”. Yes, I’m a bit behind. That’s because I like reading the articles, but tend to get bogged down in all the editorial mistakes so have to “gear up”. Perhaps that will be blog fodder for another time.

    This time, the John Sharp article caught my eye. (Does anyone ever wonder why he’s the only one with his mug shot next to his articles?) The headline, HICKMAN MILLS SCHOOL DISTRICT SEEKS TO RAISE TEACHER’S PAY WITH A NO TAX INCREASE BOND, is so wrong. First of all, bond money cannot legally be used to pay anyone. Secondly, that should be TEACHERS’ pay – one of those little irksome editorial things. But I digress. Mr. Sharp should know better and shouldn’t have allowed this headline to accompany his article.

    That’s the really attention grabbing line, but there are issues with others:

    “A second middle school and a raise in teachers’ salaries is the purpose behind theo tax increase bond issue and an increase in its operating property tax levy.”
    That was the caption under the accompanying picture of Smith-Hale Middle School. (Notice the typo of “theo” and reference my paragraph above.)

    Is this second middle school wishful thinking on Mr. Sharp’s part? Is he subliminally trying to influence the superintendent into making this recommendation? He does always seem to think he knows best; but it’s certainly not what the district has presented. According to what they have made public, middle school redesign is a priority.

    That means there are actual options other than simply finding another building. There were strong rumors a while back that the district was interested in purchasing the former O’Hara High School property to use as a middle school. Was that Mr. Sharp’s idea? Shouldn’t the district be looking at the most economical way of handling the situation? Including the busing issue? That has not always seemed to be Mr. Sharp’s strong suit.

    Also, if you look at the information the district has presented or listen to the Superintendent, there are other issues the bond will address such as school safety and security. In the light of recent events one would think Mr. Sharp would consider this more of a priority than juggling preteens.

    All in all, not one of Mr. Sharp’s finer articles, especially if readers use this information to influence their vote.

     
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