By Matt Durler, Liberal (Parent of three)
My wife often refers to me as painfully practical (lovingly, I hope!). I have extensively remodeled each of the first two houses we lived in without ever hiring a contractor.
I don’t buy new vehicles (because of the depreciation), and I probably never will. I grew up in a farm family where we made the most of what we had, focused on the basics and made things last.
I firmly believe in being fiscally responsible and in fixing what I have rather than buying new whenever practical. There have been times in my life where making do with what I had rather than moving forward no longer made since though.
When I got married, as much as I’d have loved to keep my buddies around and keep paying $150 a month rent, it wasn’t practical, as my family was growing and we’d soon have our first child and needed more room.
The same way, as much as I loved my old pickup, when repairs started costing more than the payments on a newer one it was no longer practical either.
As much as I hate paying taxes and would like to make do with what we have, our schools are feeling a little like that old rental or my old pickup. My two oldest girls attend McDermott Elementary and the staff there does a wonderful job making do with what they have, but there are lots of things that have been bandaged for too long.
McDermott, like many of the other schools, has portables housing four classrooms (roughly 80 kids), starts getting their “hot” lunches before 10 a.m., no security, no storm shelters and a traffic mess. The school is already busting at the seams and in need of more classrooms and bathrooms.
Eighty-seven percent of Kansas kindergarteners attend all-day kindergarten. I am fortunate that my girls are in the dual-language program and are in that 87 percent, 460 of the 500 kindergarteners are not. It would take 12 more portables just to transition to all day kindergarten at a cost of $3 million.
Our elementary schools already have more children than our intermediate and middle schools can hold. Our canned response, “More portables.” The mill levy would support 100 percent of the cost, we would again be paying more taxes with no end in sight.
The plan we have before us on April 8 addresses these issues in a very practical manner. We all pay state taxes regardless. I’m in favor of keeping some of that money here to fix our current problems and give us room to grow. We simply have too many problems with our school district as it currently is to keep “doing what it takes” and “getting by.”
A plan that fixes our problems, plans for the future and leaves property taxes only paying 29 percent of the total bill is practical and gets my vote.