Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: The kids in Marshall need better schools

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The kids in Marshall need better schools.

In 2001 George Clemens and I led the Marshall Public Schools Facility Committee charged by Superintendent of Schools Joe Aull and the Marshall Board of Education, to sum up with and execute a plan to improve schools for kids. This group looked at the present buildings and concluded: The kids in Marshall need better schools.

This group of almost 100 citizens rode school buses to Moberly, Columbia, Knob Noster, Sedalia and Warrensburg. Individuals on the committee looked at several more districts and reported to the whole committee. Their unanimous decision was: The kids in Marshall need better schools.

Then, the committee tried to select a location and the solution got murkier. Yes, we all agreed we needed new schools, but we couldn't unanimously agree where to put them. Many of us just wished the school board would select the site so we could just ask the people to authorize the building of the schools. We knew: The kids in Marshall need better schools.

Along the way we visited with almost every teacher and all of the administrators. All of them agreed: The kids in Marshall need better schools.

We took the final bond issue proposal, to build two new grade schools and a second question proposing a specific location to the public. Fifty-four percent of the voters said "yes": The kids in Marshall need better schools.

The issue failed. Why did it fail if 54 percent said yes? The issue failed because, if you go for a bond issue rather than a general operating levy increase, you need 57.5 percent majority, not a simple majority. Our group, saddened by the failure of the bond issue agreed: The kids in Marshall need better schools.

Superintendent Joe Aull and the Marshall Board of Education tried a couple more times, in the early part of the last decade, to pass the bond issue. The voters grew tired, they lost their enthusiasm and interest and the supporting group got smaller, but no less committed. They still believed: The kids in Marshall need better schools.

Fast forward to 2014; we have a new superintendent and a new school board. They have seen the district patch and pay to try to keep the almost 100-year-old buildings going. They concluded: The kids in Marshall need better schools.

These school leaders purchased land and have submitted a comprehensive plan to begin the process of upgrading our local school buildings to 21st century standards. The proposal costs more than in 2001, but what doesn't cost more today? Community backers have worked hard to get citizens advice and support. They all know this proposal is just the beginning; that future needs still include a new middle school, eventually a high school to replace the present almost 40-year-old, "New High School." These folks will all tell you: The kids of Marshall need better schools.

Please join me in supporting better schools for the kids in Marshall by voting yes on April 8!

-- Dale Zank, Marshall
Insurance agent