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Marshall school bond: Campaign committee mulls design recommendation for proposed new school

Thursday, September 10, 2009

John Angelhow and Wayne Crawford lead discussion during a meeting of the bond campaign committee Tuesday, Sept. 8. More than 40 people attended the meeting, up from the 20-plus who were at the group's first meeting Sept. 3. The group is in the early stages of planning a campaign in support of a $20 million bond that would fund the construction of a new school. The bond issue will be on the November ballot.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Community input is still needed by the committee that has formed to campaign for the $20 million school building bond issue, which will be on the November ballot.

At a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 8, committee leaders and school officials presented the current design options and addressed questions raised by those in attendance.

"Nothing is set in stone at this point," said John Angelhow, co-chairman of the committee. "We are all here on a fact-finding mission. What we're doing here is trying to get as much input from the public as possible. We want you to let us know how you feel about the options."

Wayne Crawford, co-chairman with Angelhow, noted that concerns expressed by the committee and the community so far are considered, something he emphasized throughout the meeting.

"There has to be some kind of trust that what you say will be taken into account," he said.

Among the big questions the committee discussed were which of three building design options to recommend, what the fate of existing buildings might be and whether the district will consider a return to some version of neighborhood schools.

The design question was raised at the committee's first meeting Sept. 3, when some elementary teachers and administrators present questioned whether the two-story, four-grade building option, which would house 800 students, would have adequate activity space for elementary students.

The architect for the project has also expressed concern about the size of that building from an educational perspective.

The school board was leaning toward the larger building because it appeared to be the most building for the money, and would get more students out of the older buildings.

But board members have said they would be willing to keep the other options on the table.

The two alternatives, both with a capacity of 600 students, or three grade levels, would cost about $4 million less than the larger building. One design would be a one-story building and the other would have a two-story section.

Crawford, who, with the late Ed Gordon, helped lead the campaign for the last successful bond issue in Marshall, back in the early 1980s, said some of the lessons learned from that experience might be useful this time.

One lesson was that choosing the best plan would inevitably disappoint some people. He noted that even a home remodeling project often pleases some members of a family and not others.

"Will (the plan) be perfect for everybody? It can't be. Two people can't agree on everything, much less a whole community."

Lori Craig, president of the local Parent Teacher Organization, asked whether a decision had been made about where various grades would be placed if the new building comes to pass.

She said she currently has two children in school and has to drive them to two different schools.

"I don't want a new building and then continue to have to drive to two places every day," she said. "I want you to take that into consideration."

Craig said she understood there are some benefits to the current arrangement, in which each elementary school houses all classes of a specific grade level, plus kindergarten classes, but she hoped the arrangement might be reconsidered.

At the previous committee meeting, school board member Anita Wright read a letter from a patron who raised a similar issue, wondering if the addition of a new building would allow the district to go back to neighborhood schools, with kindergarten through fourth or fifth grade in each elementary building.

Superintendent Craig Noah said at the Sept. 3 meeting that a number of options could be considered regarding which grades are housed in which building.

At the Sept. 3 meeting, architect Michael Kautz said he knew of no other district in the state that used the same system Marshall does for arranging grades by building.

Craig said she had not made up her mind whether to support the bond issue and came to the meeting to learn more about it.

The next meeting of the committee will be 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14, at Bueker Middle School. Crawford and Angelhow urged those present Sept. 8 to invite as many community members as possible.

The co-chairmen hope the group will be able to arrive at a design recommendation at that meeting and present it to the school board.

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net

Related stories:
2009 Marshall school building bond issue:

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Drop 555, I talked with a politician about how I thought it would more fair to use a sales tax and he said the ONLY fair way to tax for schools is property tax. He pointed out that every renter is helping pay the property tax in his rent. Property owners include the cost of it in the monthly payment. Thus, unless you are living in a tent in the park, you're helping pay for schools even if you rent. Also, I believe the $20,000,000 needed on this bond issue is not all going to the new school. Some of it (I believe it is between 6-8 million) is going to fix up the surviving schools so we can hold on to them a little longer. Eric, correct me if I'm wrong.

-- Posted by oneofmany on Sun, Oct 18, 2009, at 10:38 PM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
Re: upgrading old schools. That was part of the orginal plan presented by the architects, but it was later amended. The school board decided that putting bond money into old schools was risky and would not further the district's goal of replacing those schools as soon as possible. So the plan now is to use the bond money only for building a three-grade building and buying land.

It isn't possible to make everyone happy, that is for sure a hard fact of life. I mentioned before, and noted someone else did also, the fact that the the people (home and business owners) mostly effected by this bond issue...don't have school age children. Which is going to have a catastrophic effect in if this passes or not.

Not to mention, as also noted, it seems that the community is looking at the bigger picture (i.e. road expansion, sidewalks, etc.). Until some critical things are addressed and the bigger picture is looked at...this thing is dead in the water again.

-- Posted by Scarpetta on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 10:42 AM

My guess is that no matter what location is proposed, no matter the configuration of the building, and no matter when it is placed on a ballot, people are still going to complain. Most often, they will only complain and not offer any other options. Complaining is just so darn easy! As to the renovation of the courthouse, let's wait to see how that all ends and how much money is actually spent. In the end, it may be that building a new building would have been the better option. However, by that time it will be too late. Time will tell. Our children can't wait any longer!

-- Posted by OldOwl on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 9:08 AM

What site IS good? Everywhere in Marshall is either too close or then too far for some people. Too far from my house...too close to my house...too far from the center of town...in the wrong neighborhood...the roads are bad...no sidewalks...too much land...not enough land...if they had chosen the Gieringer property would you say...too close to the YMCA... too close to 3 good roads, Lincoln, Morrow, and College...too close to MVC. Every facility in Marshall has issues of safe traffic, I certailnly understand this concern. But again...what location is better?

-- Posted by mu-grad on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 7:07 AM

drop555, I believe you're right. It was the Newell property. And I think that location was a major reason for the failure. People did not like it.

I do not like this new south location much either. I don't like it #1) because of the highway and #2) I think it's too close to the airport and the 911 center.

If there is a possibility that Highway 65 can be made into two lanes, it would be safer.

-- Posted by Dawson16 on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 11:10 PM

The patrons of this school district have always expressed an affinity for neighborhood schools. The school board has ignored this taking the position that fixing or adding on to the existing buildings is not possible or cost effective.

One only need examine the renovation of the Court House and other buildings on the square (many of which were built prior to any of the existing school buildings), and see that these buildings can be rewired, replumbed, air conditioned and otherwise rennovated, and not only be made serviceable, but preserve the character of our community.

If this were not cost effective, the county and other downtown property owners would not make these rennovations.

Another issue that has not been addressed is who is going to pay for the infrastructure improvements required to service the proposed new school building. I recall this same issue surfaced during the last bond issue with the City not being inclined to widen existing roadways and provide utility expansion to the proposed site.

Just my two cents worth. GH

-- Posted by Gray hair on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 9:55 PM

Sorry I started to just make a comment on the whole issue when I say the sales tax question.

From todays ariticle what i see is the same as the last time this was tried. More questions than answers. Now even from your own members and PTA members. Cancel the november ballot request and start answering questions and maybe try in April. No mention of the concerns of location today, most still do not like the chosen location, more fuel usage, traffic on 65, school needs to be close to high school. The Property once on list from 240 south on miami and 65 to railroad tracks is a much closer location, this is probably still available. Closer to all of the elementry schools that will be left, I beleive it was Newell or something like that who owned it.

The committe needs our help and are appreciated, they simply have their hands full, and the decision is being presented for a vote to quick.


-- Posted by drop555 on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 8:05 PM

the law does not allow a sales tax for schools, this has been brought up befoe but the state senate and congress seem apposed to tackle this issue so the law can be changed. I think you are right, this is the only fair way to do it. There are to many multiple family homes in saline county who do not contribute to these fees. Renters do not pay property taxes only the property owner. I have at least six homes in a two block area where I live that have at least 10 families not making a single payment to this system. If the congress and senate changed the law we chould use sales taxes and that would be great.

-- Posted by drop555 on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 7:50 PM

Why dont we do a increase in sales tax to cover this instead of a bond issue? That way, everyone will contribute and not just the home owners paying to it.

-- Posted by mofireman on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 7:14 PM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
School districts are not allowed to use sales taxes to raise money for capital improvements.

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