Thoughts on The 36th District Race and The Latest School Bond Issue

Two ballot issues should be of especial concern to residents of south Kansas City, one being peculiar to the southeastern half.

The first is the issue of who will be their representative in the State House. One choice is one with a questionable past involving use of Facebook time regarding issues of a sexual nature and internet searches for tactical rifles during the time he was supposed to be teaching high school students; issues which led to his resigning his teaching position. Mark Sharp happens to be the son of longtime Democratic puppeteer John Sharp, who is eager to have his disgraced son in Jeff City so that he, himself, can have his finger in yet another pie.

The other choice offered is Laura Loyacono, a newcomer to Kansas City politics, but knowledgeable about how Jeff City works. Her past includes a record of supporting public education and stable housing for seniors and working families. She also helped establish the Jackson County Children’s Services Fund.

While Sharp’s most recent flyer states that “This senseless killing must stop” and joined Mayor Lucas in requesting the governor to convene a special session: he says nothing about what he will propose at that session. Even implying that he will do something about guns is a bit hypocritical when he, himself, was searching online for not simply a hunting rifle, but a tactical rifle.

For those concerned about COVID-19, you should also be aware that he campaigns without wearing a mask.

Loyacono promises to fight for quality affordable healthcare, common sense gun laws, and expanded access to education and job training. She has a Master’s degree in public administration and no ties to the local political club.

It’s time for south Kansas City to step up and say no to the establishment and yes to a real and fresh voice to represent us in Jeff City.

The other issue, which is important to those living in Hickman Mills, is the bond issue. While this bond itself will not increase your taxes, it will increase the debt service the district will have to pay back which could have dire consequences.

In 2014, the District had a financial reserve of 24%. By the end of 2018 the District was so low on funds, it had to borrow money to make payroll and then ended up closing two schools and laying off teachers. Altogether, it doesn’t seem like this Board is a group that knows how to handle money.

Before voting to put this issue before the people, the Board hired a consultant, Hollis+Miller, an architectural firm. While they have worked with many school districts and did architectural work for Hickman Mills in the past, one has to wonder about conflict of interest. The Board has a history of accepting the recommendation of consultants simply because they’re the consultant. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that there needs to be an evaluation process.

Aside from that, let’s compare some of the issues supposedly covered by the last bond with those to be covered by the proposed bond:

2016 Bond2020 Proposed Bond
Roof ImprovementsRoof Improvements
HVAC ImprovementsHVAC Improvements
Restroom RenovationsRestroom Renovations

There was/is no delineation as to where any of these have or will occur, so we don’t know if these are new projects or old ones that just didn’t quite get taken care of. There are also listed for the current bond “exterior improvements” and “interior improvements”. That could be anything. Does the public not deserve to know exactly what will be done with their money? How will we be able to judge if our tax dollars are being used properly?

While fund balances have now been built back up, given recent history they could very well go back down again. This seems a poor time to go further into debt. This bond issue will not raise your taxes, but should the District budget get close to the red again and the Board votes to close more schools, your property values will certainly go down.