Since I officially took over as editor of the Daily Union Dec. 20, no one issue has flooded my email inbox or come across my desk in the form of a story more than the current debate about what to do with Junction City High School.
I have received more letters to the editor on the issue than any other. We as a staff have written more stories on the high school than anything else in the past month. And this will likely continue until the issue is resolved.
Through the past month though, one thing has become abundantly clear: the public is learning more every day, but still isn’t as informed as it should be on the issue.
There’s no more important time for the citizens of Junction City to ask real, substantive questions of your representatives on the steering committee and the school board. This is a very important issue that could affect Junction City and potentially Fort Riley and the entire Flint Hills region. You, as a citizen and a taxpayer have a right to be informed. And we, as the media, have a responsibility to inform you.
That’s why, if on the off chance you don’t go to the Town Hall, you have my assurance that my staff and I will work as hard as we can to keep you updated on the issues with the school.
Myself and education reporter Lydia Kautz will be at today’s Town Hall. I have met personally with USD 475 COO Bill Clark, as well as members of the steering committee for extensive briefs on the issue.
Over the next few weeks, I plan to spend time talking with members of the Governor’s Military Council, as well as the State Treasury Department, in order to give you the full rundown on the funding for each potential project.
Things like Military Impacted Aid and Heavy Military Impacted Aid will be explained in-depth in the pages of this paper.
I plan to go as far as I have to up the ladder of the state government, in order to give you an extensive rundown of where the money for a state bond comes from.
These are important issues that many of you have expressed concerns about, both in letters to us and in comments on social media.
One thing I want to make clear: there has been a lot of concern about a hike in the school district mill levy.
I can assure you, in my repeated talks with district and steering committee officials, a mill levy hike is the last thing they want.
That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen, but if the bond issue goes to a vote and passes, the state is legally bound to pay it.
If that happens, between the bond and money the district has from impact aid, heavy impact aid and just general savings, all the funding for the current plans — even the new school, new site plan — will be there without a mill levy hike anymore than what’s already scheduled.
Also, I wanted to make clear that the Daily Union has not yet taken an official editorial position on the issue.
But we plan to.
Once we believe we are fully informed on all the issues and the best plan is clear, we will take a stance. But I assure you that stance will only come with the understanding that no money will come out of your pockets.
And it is our pledge to you that we will keep you as informed as possible until then.