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[March 23, 2014]
LETTERS [Topeka Capital Journal (KS)]
(Topeka Capital Journal (KS) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SCHOOL BOND ISSUE Vote yes I've decided to vote "yes" on the Topeka Public Schools bond issue. By attending informational meetings, I've learned that passage of this bond issue will help build a better future for students, the district and Topeka.
I'm especially interested in the proposed safety and security enhancements that would be made right away. If the proposal doesn't pass, it may take up to 30 years to upgrade each building at the current one-building-a-year pace. Without increased security features, we are leaving our students and teachers at risk.
Other items in the bond proposal include updated science classrooms, replacement of standard books with digital versions for middle and high school students, replacement of aging computers and iPads, and infrastructure enhancements to support that information technology initiative.
Research shows that quality early education sets students up for success. Passage of the bond also would allow construction of a districtwide pre-K facility. This will help eliminate the current shortage of pre-kindergarten opportunities within the district.
Another exciting aspect of the bond issue would be the addition of the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers. The center would provide project-based, career-focused programs for high school juniors and seniors in engineering, bioscience, human services, and business technology and media.
The price tag of $143 million is a lot of money, but 44 percent will be paid by the state. Also, interest rates are low now, and the bonds can be issued while maintaining the current mill levy. The bond issue is estimated to have a positive economic impact of $278 million on the Topeka community.
I encourage all voters in USD 501 to exercise their right to vote and vote "yes." Ballots must be returned and received in the Shawnee County Election Office no later than noon on April 8.
AMANDA BAXTER MOORE, Topeka OUTSOURCING Local control is lost Kansas taxpayers have seen firsthand how outsourcing public services to for-profit corporations can turn into a nightmare. Since Gov. Sam Brownback outsourced KanCare last year, families across the state have experienced reduced service levels from the private contractors resulting in serious life or death consequences. One contractor tried to reduce home care for one Kansan who relies on home care for assistance with basic needs like using the bathroom and operating a machine that enables him to breathe.
Outsourcing disasters like this show taxpayers have very little say over how tax dollars are spent and no say on actions taken by private companies that control public services. Outsourcing means taxpayers cannot vote out executives who make decisions that hurt public health and safety. Outsourcing means taxpayers are contractually stuck with for-profit corporations. And outsourcing too often means a race to the bottom for the local economy, as wages and benefits fall.
That's why In the Public Interest, a national watchdog for reckless outsourcing and responsible contracting, is supporting HB 2723, a new proposal to reign in predatory contracting of government services in Kansas. HB 2723 helps Kansas taxpayers reclaim control of their services, and makes sure that their tax dollars are invested in their communities, not sent away to pad some outside organization's accounts. It is a common sense proposal that, left or right, we can all agree on.
In an era of outsourcing, it is essential that lawmakers remain watchdogs for the public interest. Elected leaders should sign on to support HB 2723.
Lawmakers who champion these proposals stand on the side of taxpayers, and plain common sense.
Donald Cohen, Washington, D.C.
In the Public Interest (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.
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