Brett Limer hopes voters will have all the facts when they fill out their ballots for a $73 million Gardner Edgerton School bond issue. The mail-in election ends on Jan. 31.
Limer attended a few district presentations on the bond issue.
“Some of the things they’re saying – they’re not necessarily lying, but they’re not telling the whole truth,” he said.
The district’s public presentations allow for limited question and answer, Limer said, but he hopes a Web site he’s created, www.gardnerschoolbond.info, will fill in some of the blanks for voters.
“The school presentation and usd231.com give half the information,” Limer said. “I’m helping to give the other half.”
For example, district’s web site and a recent mailer says that Moonlight Elementary School is exceeding its capacity. The mailer says the district built four modular classrooms on the elementary school’s property in 2010 and another modular classroom in 2011.
But Moonlight’s enrollment actually decreased between 2010 and 2011, Limer said.
“There’s actually decreased enrollment at three of the six elementary schools, including Moonlight Elementary. There are more students in trailers this year than there were last year, yet student headcount is down,” Limer explained.
The district projected that Moonlight would gain 13 kids in 2011. Instead, the school’s headcount decreased by 34 students.
The projection was short by 47 students, Limer’s web site explains.
That’s a concern for the parent of two students, because school officials See are saying the bond issue is necessary based on future projections.
Limer said USD 231’s growth projections are inflated.
“(The projections) have been shown repeatedly to not be true,” Limer said. “In the 2005 bond, they projected we would have 1,000 people more by this year than we have.”
A graphic on Limer’s website shows 2005 bond issue projections layered with projections for the 2012 bond issue.
By 2013-2014, the school district would need to add 365 elementary school students to meet the school district’s projections.
According to the website, USD 231 has added less than 90 students for three of the last four years. The highest number of elementary students added in one year, 2005-2006, is 150 students.
“USD 231 is not going to add an average of 180 elementary students each of the next two years,” Limer writes on his site.
He also raises concerns about the district’s plans to build a new athletic facility and to put turf on the football field.
According to the USD 231 website, artificial turf reduces expenses related to the maintenance of grass turf. Currently, the district pays approximately $30,000 each year for things like fertilizer, watering and mowing.
But Limer said nothing in the school’s information discusses replacement costs or how long artificial turf lasts.
“These are basically large outdoor carpets,” Limer said.
He’s spoken with the director of field turf at the University of Missouri, and Limer estimates the life span of artificial turf is about 10 years.
“You can’t just throw it away. These things are made of tires. That needs to be factored into the maintenance cost,” he said.
The site isn’t intended to persuade voters to vote against the bond, but Limer believes voters with all the information will draw that conclusion.
“On the Web site, you won’t seen anything that says, ‘vote no’ or ‘vote down the bond,’” he said. “This isn’t me wanting to covert people from yes votes to no votes. This is me trying to provide context.”
Ideally, he said, the bond will be voted down and residents and school officials can immediately start work on a new one that better addresses the district’s needs.
School officials were unavailable for comment.