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Wyandotte County residents discuss concerns over proposed KCKPS $420M bond item on May ballot

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Posted at 10:42 PM, Feb 25, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Wyandotte County Commonwealth Advocacy Coalition met Sunday to discuss its concerns over a proposed $420 million bond issue on the May 7 ballot for Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools.

If passed, the money would go toward buying and improving sites for the district.

The coalition hosted meetings on Saturday and Sunday to educate the public about the bond while encouraging voters to vote "no."

Their primary concern is taxpayers who already struggle to make ends meet would be burdened with yet another tax for improvements they feel should come after a focus on academics.

“They’re putting the cart before the horse,” said Lisa Walker Yeager, district resident and coalition member.

Walker Yeager also acts as her neighborhood’s vice president. She said for people who have been in their homes for "50, 60, 70 years," their "taxes are continuing to be raised."

Her argument is why school board members Wanda Brownlee Paige and Dr. Valdenia Winn voted against the proposal.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t care,” Brownlee Paige said. “It means, can we do this differently? So hopefully if the ’nos’ win, we can go back, reassess, look at things and decide what’s best, and also consider the taxpayers.”

They argue the proposed improvements do not address the district's struggles with attendance, altercations and even partial accreditation.

“We’re not fully accredited,” Brownlee Paige said. “We’re getting taxed, but our kids are having problems. So, we have to work together to try to resolve that.”

The district said it’s all for collaboration, which is why Superintendent Anna Stubblefield attended Sunday’s meeting.

“I am all in with collaborating with different community groups to make that happen for our students,” Stubblefield said.

When it comes to addressing concerns over why these improvements are happening, she pointed back to the last capital improvement-related bond issue voters approved in 2016.

“There were things that were left undone at that time, so we’re just bringing that back to the community so they can make an informed choice,” Stubblefield said.

The superintendent responded to questions and concerns from the audience while emphasizing it’s not her job to tell anyone how to vote.

“I do not want us to talk about sides, I really want us to talk about [how] we have different perspectives,” she said. “We are all here and want the best for our students, and we want outcomes for them so that they can be productive citizens.”

She also said the district is just as concerned about academics as the community.

“Academics are why we exist, our primary focus,” Stubblefield said. “But while we are focusing on the academics, we have to make sure that the physical experience for what our students are showing up to every day align with that as well.”

The meeting ended with the coalition and district planning to follow up with a private meeting with district leadership about concerns.

“We all want the same thing. We don’t agree on how to get there, and that’s what we have to work at,” Brownlee Paige said.

For more information on coalition meetings in the coming weeks and months, email change4thedotte@gmail.com.

KCKPS will meet Tuesday to present its second quarter data at the Board of Education meeting. Stubblefield encouraged members of the public to attend to learn more.

To read the agenda, click here.