Vern and Karen Stephenson

This letter is addressed to the USD 231 school board, the Gardner mayor and city council and all taxpaying citizens of Gardner.
We want to express serious concerns about the GE school district as well as Gardner City finances. We are senior citizens living on retirement income. As a result, our income has dropped since 2007 due to stock market fluctuations and frozen social security; this is, of course, in addition to increased taxes such as the state of Kansas 1 percent sales tax increase, Gardner mill levy increase and a 24 percent increase in water rates over three years just to name a few.
When we read in the newspaper that USD 231 has requested the city of Gardner make a commitment to spend money providing infrastructure for new schools and then we read that the mayor and some city councilmen state the city has “a long history of supporting the schools,” we are very concerned! Has the “long history of supporting schools” been demonstrated during the worst recession the United States has ever seen? It probably goes without saying that we are not the only people in Gardner whose incomes have decreased or been frozen by this economy.
We want more information! Do not tell us that the school district is not prepared to discuss numbers yet. Our suggestion is to hold public meetings in which it is disclosed exactly why the classroom sizes must be so small; explain what measures have been taken to deal with the record-setting loss of state, county and local taxes.
We would like to see and hear a lot more dialogue regarding possible bond issues. Perhaps the people in charge should justify these spending measures as though they are going to have to pay out of their pockets and not just with the public’s money.